30 September 2013
At this year’s WIPO Assemblies, which began last week in Geneva, I had the opportunity to meet many heads of IP offices. My immediate impression was of a widespread determination to modernise national frameworks and ensure that innovation policy and the patent system are at the top of national agendas. In most cases, these plans are now finding the support of governments, which are making available the necessary resources. I was particularly struck by the degree of commitment among the representatives of Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, Russia and Singapore, and of regional organisations such as OAPI and the EAPO.
Many of these IP offices have a need for more technical cooperation, especially in training patent examiners, upgrading IT systems and improving procedures. With its experience and know-how, the EPO is doing everything it can to support these efforts, which help to raise quality standards for the patent system as a whole. Apart from several bilateral cooperation programmes signed this week, I should mention two major projects which have continued to gather support: the CPC, our new classification system, co-managed with the USPTO, and Patent Translate, the EPO’s automated translation service for patent documents. I was particularly pleased by Russia’s decision to adopt the CPC and by the completion of our Russian-language machine translation initiative. Thanks to the excellent collaboration with Rospatent and the EAPO, we were able on 26 September to launch the English-Russian language pair under Patent Translate. This, I am sure, will lead to a further increase in the use of the service, which is already running at 10 000 connections per day.
On the multilateral side, the IP5 Offices signed an agreement to start a PPH-related pilot from 1 January 2014. The accelerated procedure based on PCT or national products will be standardised among the five participants, which will make life a good deal easier for our users. Concerning patent law harmonisation, progress was made in the Tegernsee process, involving the patent offices of Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US, together with the EPO. Comprehensive reports were presented, addressing four key issues and setting out the views of users in each region. The process is to be concluded next year with the publication of a comparative analysis carried out by our experts. The expectation is that the fund of material generated in the Tegernsee exercise will support the further international discussions on patent law harmonisation.
For Europe, in this dynamic global context, it is reassuring that actors such as the EPO, or OHIM, which in recent years has pursued a very successful cooperation policy for trade marks and designs, are developing standards – through concerted European efforts – that can serve as worldwide models.