International Patent Cooperation Project

The United States Patent and Trademark Office announced on Friday, October 31, 2008, that a select group of international partners had developed a blueprint for work sharing among patent offices to address the common challenges they are currently facing.   The aim of the so-called IP5 is to reduce duplication of efforts and streamline the patent process.  The vision statement adopted states: “The elimination of unnecessary duplication of work among the offices, enhancement of patent examination efficiency and quality, and guarantee of the stability of patent right.”

The meeting, which took place in Jeju, Korea on October 27 and 28, 2008, was chaired by Dr. Jung-Sik Koh, commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). Also attending were Alison Brimelow, president of the European Patent Office (EPO); Takashi Suzuki, commissioner of the Japan Patent Office (JPO); Tian Lipu, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO); and Jon Dudas, under secretary of Commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO.

The offices established a cooperative framework of 10 Foundation Projects. These projects were devised to harmonize the search and examination environment of each office and to standardize the information-sharing process. The projects are expected to facilitate the work-sharing initiative by enhancing the quality of patent searches and examinations and building mutual trust in each other’s work. Each office will oversee the implementation of two Foundation Projects. For the first step, the offices agreed that by, at the latest, the end of April 2009, they would exchange detailed proposals on each Foundation Project and strive to identify the areas of agreement as well as specific details of implementation.

The work-sharing among the five offices will hopefully increase the efficiency of the patent system world-wide and minimize the cost and effort of patent applicants with regard to the acquisition and management of patent rights. According to the USPTO, consistency in the patent process will ensure the predictability of patent results when applicants lodge applications at multiple offices. Greater simplicity will increase the convenience and savings of applicants.

At the close of the meeting, the offices pledged to continue working together toward the realization of the shared vision and agreed to convene the next heads of the five offices meeting at a time convenient to each in 2009.  Here is a list of what each of the offices agreed to tackle in preparation for the next meeting:

  1. Common Documentation Database (lead: EPO) – Aim: To bring together a common set of relevant patent and nonpatent literature from around the world to assist patent examiners in their prior art searches
  2. Common Approach for a Hybrid Classification (lead: EPO) – Aim: To enable joint and efficient updating of patent classification and facilitate the reuse of work among the patent offices
  3. Common Application Format (lead: JPO) – Aim: To facilitate the filing procedure of each office by using a Common Application Format; and by using electronic or digitized patent application filing (in XML format) and subsequent processing and publication in XML format
  4. Common Access to Search and Examination Results (lead: JPO) – Aim: To enable examiners to find one-stop references in the dossier information of other offices, such as search and examination results and to conduct the priority document exchange (PDX) to reduce the cost of ordering copies of priority documents for applicants and the administrative costs of electronic processing for offices
  5. Common Training Policy (lead: KIPO) – Aim: To standardize the training of patent examiners at each office, helping examiners to produce equivalent results of search and examination at the five offices
  6. Mutual Machine Translation (lead: KIPO) – Aim: To help the offices overcome the language barrier of patent information and allow greater access to each other’s patent information
  7. Common Rules for Examination Practice and Quality Control (lead: SIPO) – Aim: To execute patent examinations at a similar standard and quality through common rules of examination practice and quality control
  8. Common Statistical Parameter System for Examination (lead: SIPO) – Aim: To establish a system of common statistical parameters for all examinations at the five offices; and to conduct statistical tasks and exchange information on examination practices under common rules and parameters, building on the work of the Trilateral statistical working group
  9. Common Approach to Sharing and Documenting Search Strategies (lead: USPTO) – Aim: To promote reutilization by enabling the patent examiners of each office to understand each other’s search strategy
  10. Common Search and Examination Support Tools (lead: USPTO) – Aim: To establish a system of common search and examination tools to facilitate work-sharing


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