Last week, in Tokyo, I had the pleasure to address Japanese IP specialists from industry at the annual meeting of the Japan Intellectual Property Association (JIPA), which brought together hundreds of JIPA members from all over the country. The EPO enjoys a long-standing relationship with Japanese firms, who have been major users of the European patent system from the very beginning. They have consistently been amongst the leading filers for European patents, and currently make up 20% of the total (in second place, after the US with 25%). Over the last ten years, they have increased their filings by 50% – a strong growth trend which we expect to confirm when we present our 2013 figures on Thursday. I also had the opportunity to meet the board of the Japanese Patent Attorney Association, an organisation with over 10 000 members.
My discussions in Tokyo showed that there is a great deal of interest amongst Japanese users in recent developments in the European patent system, especially the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court, and in the EPO’s ongoing efforts to further improve the effectiveness of our searches in Asian prior art. Nowadays, EPO examiners can consult a database of 30 million documents from Japan, China and South Korea, giving them almost 100% coverage. Last year, 20% of the documents cited in our search reports had an Asian priority. A bilateral meeting with our colleagues at the Japan Patent Office impressed me with their busy schedule in response to a comprehensive reform of IP legislation, to be passed by the Diet in the coming months.
The same willingness to modernise and improve the efficiency of patent systems has also driven the negotiations between the ASEAN countries and the EPO which led to the signature, later last week in Cambodia, of a general memorandum on ASEAN/EPO co-operation. ASEAN covers a region of 616 million people that registered 5.7% GDP growth last year, and is currently implementing its 2011-2015 IPR action plan. EU member states are the biggest source of foreign direct investment in the region, and file 30% of all patent applications received there. So it is only logical to strengthen those links by creating a dedicated framework for patent co-operation. The EPO also offers a good example of how to maximise efficient interaction between local and regional players.
With the Asian economies – whether mature or emerging – continuing to grow, we shall continue to work hard to broaden and deepen our two regions’ co-operation in the patent field.
In recent weeks, the ratification of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court has received a fresh impetus, with the completion by Malta (on 21 January) and France (on 13 February) of the relevant parliamentary procedures, following the example set by Austria in August of last year. Preparations for ratification are also well under way […]
Last year, filings at the EPO reached a new peak, with over 265 000 applications. Coping with this workload – while maintaining high quality standards – necessitates action to address a wide range of parameters, including human resources, IT tools, the legal framework of the patent process and the EPO’s internal procedures. With the “Raising […]
My official visit to Mexico last week was a valuable opportunity to meet the national authorities and patent system users, and also to assess the scope for reinforcing the long-standing cooperation between the EPO and the Mexican IP office (IMPI). The timing was particularly appropriate, as Mexico is currently working to implement an ambitious national […]
Over the past decade, the valuation and monetisation of intellectual property have become ever more important. In the past, the approach to these matters was mainly defensive, when liquidity problems led companies to look for things they could readily sell, including immaterial assets. Latterly, however, the management of patent portfolios has become increasingly dynamic, with […]
The EPO filing figures for 2013 were published last week. Although they remain preliminary – largely because of the 2013 PCT applications which have yet to reach us -, the main trends are clearly apparent. First, for the fourth year in a row, the filings total increased (+2.8%), reaching yet another peak (265 000). However, […]
Less than a year after the entry into force of the EU Regulations on unitary patent protection and the signing of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC), it is gratifying to see the steady progress in the preparation and implementation of these two major projects for the benefit of inventors and industry in […]
The cooperation between the EPO and the patent office of China (SIPO) dates back almost 30 years, to the signing of the first cooperation agreement in 1985. The bilateral Heads meeting held last week in Beijing was a further example of the longstanding and excellent relations between our two Offices. Reviewing our recent cooperation activities, […]
The EPO has long seen the need to respond to the globalisation of the patent process, reflected in the ever-increasing proportion of patents filed in multiple offices and in the growing geographical diversity of prior art. The IP5 has addressed these issues by developing systems that allow examiners to benefit from the regional and linguistic […]
Last week, in Brussels, the EPO and OHIM held a joint seminar on the essentials of IP for EU officials. I was delighted to see that this event attracted some 130 participants, from the EU institutions, national governments and IP offices, indicating the strong awareness within the European policy-making community of the crucial role of […]