Given that the large majority of all patent applications filed worldwide are processed through five patent offices, patent harmonization among these agencies is a key concern. Recent meetings between the leaders of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) aimed to boost these efforts.
The collaborative group, known as the IP5, was formed in 2007 to eliminate the unnecessary duplication of work among the offices, enhance patent examination efficiency and quality, and guarantee the stability of patent rights. However, according to an EPO press statement, this was the group’s first high-level meeting with the leaders of each office. It also included industry representatives from all five regions and “sought input from users on their needs concerning the orientation of the IP5 cooperation,” according to the EPO.
In a recent Department of Commerce blog post, the USPTO also highlighted several of the issues discussed at the meeting. To make the patent process more user-friendly, the leaders discussed the concept of a “Global Dossier,” aimed at simplifying procedures for patent applicants and improving the efficiency of the offices when dealing with the same patent application. The IP5 also reportedly reaffirmed their commitment to improve the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which already enables patent applicants to seek simultaneous patent protection with a single international application for up to 145 countries.
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As this post highlights, harmonizing international patent protection is a work in progress. Therefore, it is imperative to consult a patent attorney such as myself with proven experience in handling foreign intellectual property concerns.