03 February 2016 - No comments »
For the EPO, Latin America and its emerging economies have been important partners. We have long enjoyed bilateral cooperation with countries such as Brazil and Mexico and with whom we have been able to work on patent administration and information initiatives.
It is for that reason that I was in Latin America last week, to develop our links with changing economies, such as Cuba, and other countries that are experiencing rapid development, such as Panama and Colombia. It was, crucially, an opportunity to create closer ties with the patent granting offices of these countries in order to develop the IP system on behalf of our users. Our delegation was also able to learn more about the innovation potential of the region, the IP strategy that their national authorities intended to develop and to explore further how we could work together.
By cooperating with national IP offices on new initiatives, the EPO foresees real benefits to our users from the region. In all three countries – Cuba, Panama and Colombia – the EPO is committed to furthering capacity building, training, IT initiatives and a focus on quality, with their national offices. In Cuba, for example, we signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cuban Industrial Property office. The MoU will guide and further our co-operation activities in fields such as Human Resources developments, automation and patent databases and data exchange.
In addition, we were able to sign a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) agreement in Bogota between the EPO and Colombia’s Superintendent of Industry and Commerce, a measure made possible since we furthered ties through a framework cooperation agreement in 2014. The conclusion of the PPH pilot programme will prove essential for promoting access to accelerated patent prosecution. It is anticipated that this, in turn, will foster business growth between our two regions and boost co-operation between our Offices, bringing additional benefits to European patent holders outside of Europe. It is also envisaged that such agreements will greatly support the timely acquisition of patent rights with our users, such as the university researchers and innovators from industry and business I had met just the day before signing the agreement. It was also clear from the intense media interest that these were measures of interest to a wide variety of actors in innovation, business and industry.
The mission also provided valuable opportunities to meet pioneering innovators and to raise awareness about the importance of patents; how they can protect the results of R&D; the possibility for the inventor to license their innovations and financial benefit; and, how patent information can be used to disseminate the technical content of others’ inventions and possibly to build on it, to name but a few of the advantages.
Specifically, it was also an opportunity to show how the EPO can help innovators from the region to achieve patent protection in Europe through the provision of our high quality products and services. In comparison to other continents, we were able to explain the protection afforded by the European patent system. The news that both the administrative burden and the cost would fall further with the introduction of the forthcoming unitary patent was also met positively by the discussions I had in all three countries I visited.