Harmonization: The Time is Now

The America Invents Act paves the way for greater patent harmonization-the alignment of laws and procedures among intellectual property systems to ensure consistency and clarity of rights for the world's innovators. As innovators seek to tap into global markets, it is imperative that the international patent system provide consistent, cost-effective avenues to obtain reliable patent rights in multiple jurisdictions. The passage of the AIA , enables the USPTO to lead on a vision of an IP world in which national and regional patent systems are harmonized in pursuit of creating an optimal environment for technological innovation and diffusion.

The information below provides information on work the USPTO is participating in, aimed at advancing the call for action to seek more harmonized patent laws among trading partners globally:

Director Kappos outlined the importance of patent law harmonization in the American Bar Association's Intellectual Property Magazine, Landslide, Patent Law Harmonization: The Time is Now, August 2011.

In April 2012 the Director of the USPTO, David Kappos, and USPTO officials undertook a European "road show," visiting six cities in four days to conduct stakeholder outreach events and meet with Heads of offices from several European intellectual property offices. Director Kappos' presentation highlighting the significant changes made by AIA which have set the stage for international substantive patent law harmonization can be found here: An Unparalleled Opportunity for Harmonization(ppt)

On June 14th 2012, Director Kappos called on European leaders to seize the opportunity created by the AIA to harmonize the international patents system. His op-ed published in the European Voice can be found here: Improving the Global Innovation Ecosystem

On June 20th 2012, Director Kappos testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on international patent issues, including patent law harmonization and the global impacts of the America Invents Act. His testimony can be found here: Director Kappos' Senate Testimony.

Harmonization Discussions:

Asia-Pacific Patent Cooperation (APPC)

In an effort to re-energize interest in substantive patent harmonization, the USPTO hosted the "Asia-Pacific Patent Cooperation Forum for the 21st Century", March 7-8, 2011, in Alexandria, VA. The forum included informal discussions among like-minded economies, including interested developing countries, led by Heads of Offices. Director Kappos' welcoming remarks can be found here: APPC Welcoming Remarks

From the Statement of the Participants at the APPC Forum:

"The time for substantive harmonization is now. We are operating in a global economy, business innovation is happening across borders. The IP system needs to be supportive of this new reality."

Tegernsee Group

The Tegernsee Group was formed in July 2011 following the APPC meeting, and is comprised of the Heads of the European, Danish, French, German, Japanese, UK and United States patent offices. Over the course of the last year, patent law experts from these offices prepared a comparative analysis of substantive law applied in each jurisdiction.

On October 4, 2012, the USPTO hosted the third meeting of the Tegernsee Group in Geneva, Switzerland. The Group took note of several studies prepared by its experts on key harmonization issues, including grace period, 18-month publication, treatment of conflicting applications and prior user rights. As an important next step, the Group has agreed to undertake global stakeholder consultations on each topic. The statement that was released at the close of the meeting can be found here.


The IP5, the European Patent Office, the Japan Patent Office, the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the State Intellectual Property Office of China, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, has agreed to form a Patent Harmonization Expert Panel (PHEP). The PHEP will continue work on a comparative analysis study of the substantive laws which govern the five Offices' practices with an eye on identifying potential areas in which harmonization may be achieved.

The IP5 maintains its commitment toward cooperative efforts on a range of issues including classification, translation, work sharing and the Global Dossier Concept. For more information on the IP5, please visit: http://www.fiveipoffices.org/.


Heads of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office, and the Japan Patent Office - collectively known as the Trilateral Offices - held their most recent meeting in Kyoto, Japan and celebrated 30 years of cooperation. The Offices confirmed their commitment to improving the quality of examination processes, promoting harmonization of practices among the offices, and exploiting the full potential of work sharing. Further details about the Trilateral Cooperation and their most recent meeting can be found at www.trilateral.net.