03 September 2012
As President of the EPO, I often take the opportunity of this blog to inform readers about developments in our relations with other patent offices worldwide and the signing of international co-operation agreements. I take particular care to ensure that those agreements deliver concrete outcomes on time. This makes it all the more gratifying that a major step has just been completed in the co-operation between the European Patent Office and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO). Today sees the entry into force of the EPO-SIPO agreement on the electronic exchange of priority documents (PDX agreement) – less than two years after it was signed, in December 2010.
The PDX agreement is part of the EPO-SIPO bilateral co-operation. It provides both Offices with electronic access to priority documents (p-docs). The technical means for this have been set up by the two Offices, working in close collaboration to enable the automatic exchange of p-docs between the EPO and SIPO via the PDX system over a specific network called PatNet. The exchange will cover certified copies of applications for patents and, in the case of SIPO, utility models, based on claims under the Paris Convention, the European Patent Convention, or the Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China.
This technical advance will have a very real impact on the daily work of EPO and SIPO examiners, who will have quick and easy access to p-docs relating to applications during search and examination. It will also benefit users of the patent system, by reducing the cost to EPO and SIPO applicants of ordering certified paper copies of priority documents from the Office of First Filing (OFF) and enabling them to provide these documents to the Office of Second Filing (OSF) in a more timely manner.
Electronic document exchange is already in place between the EPO, JPO, KIPO and USPTO. Following the agreement with SIPO, the EPO now has a fully functioning p-docs exchange network with all its IP5 partners, accounting for 80 to 90% of patent activity worldwide. This will ease the administrative tasks of our users across the globe.