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Report From the IP5 Meeting in Tokyo
Guest blog by Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea
I would like to tell you about our recent trip to Tokyo, Japan to participate in the IP5 Deputy Heads and Heads of Offices meetings. The IP5 is an ad-hoc group representing the five largest patent offices in the world – the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). According to statistics maintained by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), these IP5 offices account for almost 80% of all patent applications filed worldwide. The IP5 began meeting in 2007, and the meeting in Tokyo was the fourth time the group met in person.
The work of the IP5 is focused on ten “Foundation Projects” created to address the vision of the IP5, namely elimination of unnecessary duplication of work between the offices, enhancement of patent examination efficiency and quality, and the guarantee of the stability of patent right.
Highlights of the meeting included:
• Reaffirmation of the importance of technical and substantive patent law harmonization that would enable users to acquire patent rights in a smooth and predictable manner, and agreement to participate in harmonization talks at appropriate international conferences;
• Agreement to accelerate the Common Hybrid Classification project following a study identifying the areas that could easily be harmonized;
• Approval of objectives for the 2012-2013 term of the Foundation Projects and agreement to increase efforts to achieve them.
The IP5 forum was an opportunity to meet one-on-one with our counterparts, as well as with local IP-interest organizations, and to strengthen these excellent working relationships that have been carefully developed over the years. I was very pleased to give luncheon remarks at a meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan followed by a Q&A session where I was joined by Albert Tramposch, USPTO’s Administrator for Policy and External Affairs.
The IP5 has a full agenda with three working groups addressing the progress, objectives, and goals of the 10 Foundation Projects year round. There is no doubt that achieving the goals of the Foundation Projects represents a great challenge to the offices, and full implementation of this integrated set of initiatives will take some time. However, the offices developed a phased approach for the project with defined goals and anticipated outcomes for each phase. With this approach, the offices will see benefits delivered early in the process instead of waiting until full implementation for tangible results. The commitment of the IP5 to work together in finding solutions that maintain the integrity of the patent system is critical in meeting the needs of a changing world.
On June 23 and 24, I met with Benoit Battistelli (EPO), Yoshiyuki Iwai (JPO), Soo-Won Lee (KIPO), and Tian Lipu (SIPO) to review the progress of the Foundation Projects and to make recommendations for the upcoming year of IP5 work. Francis Gurry (WIPO) was also present as an observer.
We were fortunate to have Banri Kaieda, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry at the meeting to welcome the heads of offices and their delegations and to give opening remarks. Director Kappos phoned in to deliver the welcome news of the passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act by the House of Representatives. As you may know, Director Kappos stayed in the U.S. to monitor the progress of the bill and was unable to attend the meeting. The IP5 delegates were very pleased that he could join them for a brief conversation and offered congratulations on news of the bill’s passage.
The EPO will host the next IP5 Heads of Offices meeting in June 2012.