Tegernsee Experts Group
The Tegernsee Group consists of the Heads of Offices of and experts from the USPTO, the JPO, the EPO and the patent offices of the UK, Denmark, Germany and France. The Group was formed in 2011 for the purpose of furthering the dialogue on substantive patent law harmonization in the wake of US legislative developments that led to the passage of the America Invents Act (AIA).
The first meeting of the Group, hosted by the EPO, took place in July 2011 in Tegernsee, Germany (hence the name of the group), where the heads considered the state of harmonization, reaffirmed the importance of making further progress, identified a range of key issues including, inter alia, the grace period, and launched a process of fact finding and information sharing by technical and legal experts to facilitate broader understanding and consideration of these issues.
The second meeting took place in April 2012 and was once again hosted by the EPO in Germany. That meeting built on the 2011 meeting by mandating the experts to carry out a detailed comparative analyses of the various issues key to harmonization, as well as in-depth studies on four particular issues—grace period, 18-month publication, conflicting applications, and prior user rights. Copies of the studies and further information may be found at: http://www.uspto.gov/ip/global/aia_harmonization.jsp or http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2012/20121108a.html.
The third meeting was hosted a few months later by the USPTO at the US Mission in Geneva on the margins of the 2012 WIPO General Assembly. There, the heads reviewed the results of the mandated studies on the grace period, publication of applications, treatment of conflicting applications, and prior user rights and agreed that the next step in the process would be to solicit stakeholder views. The experts then collaborated and developed a joint harmonization questionnaire that each office separately administered. In addition, each office except DPMA and INPI (France) hosted roundtable discussions on the issues that were the subject of the study. In June 2013, the offices produced individual summary reports of the results of their administration of the questionnaire and the roundtable meeting they hosted. The results of the questionnaire as administered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office are available online.
The fourth meeting was hosted by the EPO in September 2013 in Geneva on the margins of the WIPO General Assembly. It was decided at that meeting that the experts should compile a joint report summarizing the analyses from the individual office reports to provide a single, comprehensive report representative of stakeholder views and experiences with the issues addressed. That report was finalized and delivered for consideration by the Heads at the fifth meeting of the Tegernsee Group held in Trieste, Italy in April 2014. The consolidated report is available at: http://www.uspto.gov/ip/global/patents/tegernsee_survey/teg-final_consol_report_june_2014.pdf