Blog

Trilateral yields harmonisation progress

05 April 2017 - No comments »

Last week I was in Seville for the meeting of the Trilateral Heads of Office and Trilateral and Industry meeting, which the EPO had the pleasure of hosting. Over the course of two days, the Offices made clear advances through the input of industry in talks with the Heads of the EPO, USPTO and JPO. While in Seville, we were also welcomed by Mr Juan Espadas, the city’s Mayor, who spoke to us about the city’s efforts in increasing its innovation capacity, particularly in fields such as health research, renewable energies and transportation.

Seville’s local innovation policy highlights why the strategic aims behind frameworks like the Trilateral are so important. Many governments around the globe have made innovation an important priority of their political agenda. This is why, in addition to the granting of European patents, we have a responsibility to our users to bring about greater harmonisation of patents at the international level, so that we can support innovation not just in our own regions but between regions as well. Our users want to see greater harmonisation between the large international patent offices so that they might be able to find similar procedures when patenting their inventions across the world. Hence the cooperation with industry has become stronger and more formalised, and resulted in the creation of a specific Trilateral Heads and Industry Meeting in 2003.

To date, there have been some concrete and useful achievements. Over the years, the Trilateral has been responsible for the development of the Common Citation Document to provide single point access and the PPH pilot programme and has undertaken work to develop the electronic exchange of priority documents. In the developing industry 4.0 context, it is also clear that new opportunities are being generated, impacting the way patent offices work or interact with the users.

During the meeting with representatives of industry of this 2017 Trilateral session, we presented our last results in the area of the patent granting process. The sharp improvements in timeliness at the EPO – as a result of our Early Certainty initiative – were very much welcomed by the users. In particular, because such advances have been made while still maintaining the highest quality levels. The discussions also focused on some substantive patent law harmonisation issues which have been debated for some years in our forum. We were pleased to see that industry representatives from our three regions seem close to having advanced proposals in fields such as grace period and prior user rights. All participants know the difficulties associated with harmonising the different patent systems on those issues. However, the very positive discussions in Seville give rise to hopes of tangible progress being made during the User Symposium, which will take place on the 20 June at the EPO in Munich.

At the Heads of Office meeting, a new MoU was signed, a clear signal of continuing commitment by all three Offices. In the Memorandum itself, the EPO, USPTO and JPO made a firm pledge to continue discussions on substantive patent law harmonisation with industry in the three regions. The EPO is thankful to its partners for having accepted our proposals. Our Offices committed to further improving services for users in the areas of priority document exchange. And, developments will be supported in the five priority areas of the IP5 Global Dossier (alerting, legal status, XML, applicant name standardisation and proof of concept for cross-filing). The EPO is already well underway with the so-called “alerting functionality”, for which it has the responsibility as a project leader. It will concretely inform a user via RSS feed about any change in a patent file for which he has expressed an interest, and this is the kind of incremental progress which can quickly make the life of our users easier.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Under Secretary of Commerce and USPTO Director Michelle Lee, Commissioner Komiya of the JPO and the industry representatives for their engagement in supporting this important process. Following this Trilateral session, it is clear that we can look ahead with confidence to the upcoming IP5 meeting in May, where we will deepen our harmonisation efforts with our colleagues from China and South Korea.

Benoît Battistelli
President

  • Share this post:

Older posts

UPP: Parliament hearing shows continuing support


Last week I was in Brussels to speak at a hearing on the Unitary Patent organised by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI). It was a pleasure to be able to return to speak to the members of the Committee to inform them on the state of play and also to provide an update […]

40% more patents granted as quality rises further


Earlier this week I was in Brussels to present the EPO’s annual results. There we welcomed more journalists that we have ever had present at this annual press conference. Media coverage has already proved expansive with reports from major outlets analysing the main trends – a positive sign of the wider interest in European innovation. […]

The BoA: New President, new era


This week the EPO welcomed Carl Josefsson as the new President of the Boards of Appeal. It is a great opportunity for a judiciary that has been reformed to enhance its efficiency and to further assure users of its independence. This new era opens under the leadership of an experienced patent judge. Indeed, previous to […]

New improvements in quality


This week I am pleased to report that the EPO recently hosted the first meeting of an additional new committee to work specifically on quality. Although the EPO has been holding meetings of the Standing Advisory Committee before the European Patent Office (SACEPO) since 1979, this is the very first time that a sub-committee has […]

The rights and obligations of an international organisation


Last Friday the Supreme Court of the Netherlands conclusively endorsed the EPO’s immunity and the validity of its legal framework. It follows a case originally brought before the national courts of the Netherlands by one of the EPO`s trade unions, which asserted that it had no means to legally challenge recent reforms within the Office. […]

2017: Consolidating gains, further improvements


Yesterday, I was able to discuss the EPO’s priorities for the coming year at a special event with our staff. It was an opportunity to review the developments of the last twelve months in a meeting in Munich, attended by over 350 staff members and viewed online by employees throughout the organisation. Almost one year […]

4th Indo-European Conference on Patents and ICT


Last week the European Patent Office hosted the fourth Indo-European Conference on Patents and ICT at its headquarters in Munich. It is an event which has been held on an alternating basis in India and in Europe since 2013, in conjunction with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of the Government of India. […]

A milestone for the Unitary Patent


The United Kingdom has announced its intention to ratify the Unified Patent Court agreement. This is the exciting news recently given by UK Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, and it has been met with positive responses by the European Commission, the other Member States and the user community. I strongly welcome this development as […]

Providing the latest online services


This week I’m reporting back from our most recent Online Services User Day in Monaco. The event last Thursday and Friday saw over 120 attendees come from across Europe to Monaco to obtain the latest information on our online services and learn about the most recent developments at the EPO. This was in fact the […]