Chongqing, 1 December 2011 -- Meeting in South-West China for their 5th Heads of Office Conference, the President of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoît Battistelli, and the Commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO), Tian Lipu, engaged in in-depth discussions in how to enhance their co-operation, and signed a work programme.
The steady increase in patent filings in China (almost 400 000 expected in 2011) and, as a consequence, SIPO's plans to double the number of patent examiners in the next five years (from 6 000 to 12 000) will need to be addressed in terms of capacity building, IT tools and patent information. It is also of utmost importance that this growing volume of Chinese prior art is rendered accessible to the users of the patent system, including the examiners of patent offices.
On the other hand, more and more Chinese companies are willing to protect their innovation and investments in Europe. This message clearly came out of a meeting organised between the two offices and local industry, and also as the Chongqing municipality indicated its intention to become the first manufacturing centre of China for laptop computers, half of them supposedly to be exported to Europe.
The very fruitful relationship developed by EPO and SIPO over the past 25 years was recognised as an excellent platform to respond to these challenges and to launch concrete projects. One important outcome of this meeting is an agreement on Chinese-English machine translation, which both offices committed to making available to the public already next year. Beside this much-awaited tool, a programme of activities was decided, aimed at simplifying the actions required by users and improving the quality of the work performed by the offices.
In this regard, the 2012 work programme will focus, for example, on the development of an electronic exchange of priority documents between the two offices, which will reduce the administrative burden on the users. Moreover, the EPO will support the SIPO in classifying Chinese documentation in ECLA, the European classification system, and provide training facilities to SIPO patent examiners, especially by virtual means. SIPO also agreed to prioritise work on first filings in such a way that it will improve the possibility for EPO's examiners to take it into account when they have to analyse a second and subsequent European filing of the same application. In general, the two offices will support each other in raising awareness of the European patent system in China and the Chinese patent system in Europe.
Expressing his satisfaction with the successful outcome of this year's meeting, EPO President Benoît Battistelli said: "Our offices already enjoy a very strong relationship, sharing a large basis of common principles, tools and similar proceedings; the new programme will further strengthen our co-operation. Simplifying procedures, eliminating language barriers and disseminating patent information will greatly benefit the users of the European and Chinese patent systems seeking to protect their inventions in both regions," he added.
Mr Rainer Osterwalder
Director Media Relations
European Patent Office
Tel: +49 89 23 99 18 20
Fax: +49 89 23 99 28 50