Recent developments towards the global cooperation and harmonisation in patent prosecution
The IP5 and their vision
The so-called Five IP Offices (IP5) are:
- the European Patent Office (EPO),
- the Japan Patent Office (JPO),
- the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO),
- the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China(SIPO), and
- and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The IP5 cooperation is aimed ateliminating unnecessary duplication of work among the offices, enhancing patent examination efficiency and advancing harmonisation of substantive and procedural patent law. The Heads of the IP5 Offices agreed on the following further ten Foundation Projects:
- Common Hybrid Classification (lead: EPO)
- Common Documentation (lead: EPO)
- Common Application Format (lead: JPO)
- Common Access to Search and Examination Results (lead: JPO)
- Common Training Policy (lead: KIPO)
- Mutual Machine Translation (lead: KIPO)
- Common Examination Practice Rules and Quality Management (lead: SIPO)
- Common Statistical Parameter System for Examination (lead: SIPO)
- Common Search and Examination Support Tools (lead: USPTO)
- Common Approach to Sharing and Documenting Search Strategies (lead: USPTO)
Details are available at http://www.fiveipoffices.org/projects.html.
In 2012 the IP5 Offices accounted for 90% of all patent applications filed worldwide and for 93% of all work carried out under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) (details are available at http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2013/20130522.html )
EPO and IEEE Standards Association announce renewed co-operation
In June 2013 the EPO and the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) have renewed their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) confirming their commitment to work. Under the terms of the MoU, the two organisations will increase their co-operation in matters of standards and intellectual property (IP) and work closely to identify areas of mutual interest. They also agree to collaborate on IP issues and educational materials relating to standards and patents. Among a variety of collaborative actions, the IEEE-SA continues to provide its standards development documents and related data to the EPO and confirms that the EPO may use them for the purpose of the patenting process in all its phases. Details are available at http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2013/20130611.html
SIPO to join the Cooperative Patent Classification System (CPC)
In June 2013 the EPO and the SIPO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance their cooperation in the area of patent classification. Under the terms of the MoU, as of January 2014, the SIPO will start classifying its newly published invention patent applications in some selected technical fields into the CPC after receiving dedicated training from the EPO, and will strive to classify its new invention patent applications according to the CPC in all technical areas from January 2016. The corresponding classification data will be shared with the EPO. The CPC is the most refined classification system for patent documents in the world (250 000 subdivisions) which entered into force at the EPO and at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on 1 January 2013. It is largely based on the European Classification (ECLA) system formerly used at the EPO (Details are available at http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2013/20130604.html).
Japanese-English machine translation for patents goes live
In June 2013 the EPO and the JPO announced the launch of the Japanese-English component of the EPO's automatic translation service Patent Translate. This means more than a million Japanese patent documents available via the EPO's global patent database Espacenet can now be instantly translated into English free-of-charge at the click of a mouse. This major step offers access to Japanese patents in the full-text version, while Japanese inventors can read European patents in their own language (Details are available at http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2013/20130605.html).