6th ASEAN-EPO Heads of Intellectual Property Offices Conference
Hanoi, 13 January 2011 -- The European Patent Office (EPO) and the intellectual property offices of the ASEAN countries are seeking to enhance their co-operation on the protection of intellectual property rights. At the sixth ASEAN-EPO Heads of Intellectual Property Offices Conference (HIPOC) the leaders of ASEAN's IP offices and the EPO are discussing ways of broadening their relations by elevating them from technical to strategic level. Hosted by Vietnam's National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP), HIPOC 2011 is taking place on 13 and 14 January.
The conference was opened by the Vietnamese Government's Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Hoang Van Phong, who addressed an audience of director generals, senior government officials, ambassadors and IP experts from the ASEAN region and Europe.
"The EPO is a key partner for Vietnam in the field of intellectual property", the Minister said. "In recent years there has been active co-operation on patent information exchange, patent examination and administration, HR development and public IP awareness-raising. The signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding raising co-operation relations to a strategic level will help both parties to resolve internal issues of their own and deal with common challenges facing the regional and international system of IP rights. Together with the EPO we are committed to the effective implementation of this Memorandum."
The Memorandum of Understanding on enhanced bilateral co-operation, signed between the EPO and NOIP just before HIPOC, constitutes a first stepping stone towards strategic co-operation with the ASEAN region. Bilateral co-operation between NOIP and the EPO began in the 1990s and was institutionalised in November 2000, when the first of the now four MoUs on bilateral co-operation was signed between the parties.
"Vietnam epitomises the dynamism and progress of the ASEAN region, which has become an engine for growth in the world economy," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli at the opening of HIPOC. "Patents are a useful tool for fostering innovation and promoting economic growth. As one of the leading patent offices, the EPO sees it as its mission to work with partner offices in the ASEAN region and elsewhere for the creation of a quality-based patent system at international level which will effectively support the needs of a global economy."
HIPOC 2011 is being attended by the leaders and other high-level representatives of the IP offices of the ASEAN states, the European Patent Organisation and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It is addressing questions of both bilateral and regional co-operation, especially improved work-sharing between the IP offices and how such co‑operation schemes can be integrated into larger international frameworks such as work-sharing within the WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The conference is expected to help establish enhanced inter-regional dialogue on patent-related policy issues.
HIPOC has been organised since 2003, and since then has made a significant contribution to enhanced patent co-operation in the ASEAN region. This year's conference will revolve around the theme of "Elevating ASEAN-EPO relations to a strategic level", looking at the present state and future direction of EPO-ASEAN relations.
In the wake of the ASEAN region's integration into the world trade system, ASEAN's IP offices have been receiving a rapidly growing number of patent applications. Today they handle well over 30 000 applications a year, with filings from EPO member states accounting for some 9 000 or 30% of the total in 2008. At the same time there has been a marked rise in the number of European patent applications filed by ASEAN companies, the 334 filings in 2010 bringing the five-year total since 2005 to 1 800. The growing demand for patent protection, combined with the ASEAN member states' objective of creating an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, has intensified the need for closer IP co-operation between ASEAN's IP offices. Avoiding unnecessary duplication of work is one of the key challenges the offices face in that respect.
EPO/ASEAN co-operation began in the early 1990s with the implementation of the first ECAP project, which the EPO ran together with WIPO on behalf of the European Commission. It has since expanded to include bilateral projects between the EPO and the IP offices of individual ASEAN states. Today, the EPO has dedicated co-operation programmes with six ASEAN members (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) and is considering extending this network.
Receiving over 200 000 applications and granting between 50 000 and 60 000 patents a year, the EPO is the central patent-granting authority for Europe and one of the world's leading patent offices. It has a staff of 7 000, including 4 000 highly qualified engineers and scientists working as patent examiners in its three official languages (English, French and German), and an entirely self-financed annual budget of some EUR 1.6bn. That makes it the second largest European organisation, after the European Commission.
The National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP) is a state agency under the Ministry of Science and Technology which performs state management functions and ensures the implementation of procedures for establishing industrial property rights (patents, utility models, trade marks, industrial designs, geographical indications, etc.) as prescribed by laws and regulations. Each year it receives over 3 000 patent applications, 2 000 industrial design applications and nearly 30 000 trade mark applications, and it grants over 800 patents, 1 200 industrial designs and nearly 23 000 certificates of trade mark registration. It currently has about 300 staff, including more than 50 patent examiners, 12 industrial design examiners and around 60 trade mark examiners.
For more information please contact:
Ms Do Thi Hanh
International Cooperation Division
National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam
Tel.: (+844) 3557 2091
Fax: (+844) 3557 2090
Director Media Relations
European Patent Office
Tel: +49 89 23 99 18 20
Fax: +49 89 23 99 28 50