Taking EPO-ASEAN relations to a strategic level

13 January 2011

Vietnamese Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Hoang Van Phong, EPO President Benoît Battistelli and NOIP Director General Tran Viet Hung

The 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 in Hanoi.

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.

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