Fresh insight on our relations with the U.S.

07 November 2014 - No comments »

_MG_0522x.jpgHaving regular contacts with our users, in and outside Europe, is of utmost importance to ensure that our services still meet their needs and also to receive feedback on the evolution of our services. This is why I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to meet three major American associations last month in Washington DC: the U.S. Bar Association, IP Owners Association and AIPLA. The EPO enjoys a very long and fruitful relationship with U.S. applicants who have been using our services intensively since our earliest days at the end of the 1970s. Every year they top the ranking in terms of European filings, reaching a 25% share of the total in 2013, which represented an impressive 5.8% increase compared to 2012.

With the U.S. Bar Association we were delighted to celebrate 30 years of bilateral meetings, taking place each year alternately in the US or in Europe. It is fair to say that some of our new tools and services were directly inspired by our exchanges and our enriching relationship built over the years. Just one example is the Common Citation Document service, launched in 2011, which gives users a consolidated view of search reports from 20 patent authorities via a single entry point.

The IP Owners Association board members and I discussed some very important and interesting issues relating to the possible future of the patent system, particularly after some landmark decisions taken by US courts in recent years. Their open-minded approach was very encouraging at a time when many are reflecting about a more harmonized global patent system.

Finally I was particularly honoured to be invited by the AIPLA to deliver a keynote speech at their annual congress, attracting hundreds of delegates. This association is very active in the promotion of the IP system and brings support and ideas to the patent offices, like the IP5, in order to improve our services. This has been particularly the case under the leadership of their out-going President, Wayne Sobon, and I have no doubt will continue under Ms Israel Sharon, who succeeds him.

These excellent relationships with our American counterparts also include the USPTO with which I think it is fair to say that we have really reinforced ties. One of the most explicit examples is obviously the Cooperative Patent Classification which is co-managed by both offices. It started with David Kappos in 2010 and I have just met Michelle Lee who expressed the same level of commitment. We are also working together to ease the life of users on both sides of the Atlantic with the development of automatic and electronic transmission of data so as to further simplify formalities. The Global Dossier is a direct result of our cooperation within the IP5 framework. The methodology used by the EPO and the OHIM for our joint study on the economic impact of IP rights in Europe was directly inspired by the same criteria and metrics used by the USPTO previously when studying American IP users in their own economy.

This all shows that despite some differences between our systems and practices, we have even more in common, not the least of which is our common desire to realise our potential to jointly develop concrete projects substantially benefitting the user community at large.

Benoît Battistelli

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