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24 September 2014
In an effort to boost innovation and trade, the EPO has signed Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programmes with the patent offices of Canada, Mexico and Singapore to launch accelerated treatment of patent applications, starting in January 2015.
The bilateral agreements were signed in Geneva at the side lines of the World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly by EPO President Benoît Battistelli and the heads of the three patent offices.
The pilot programmes will leverage fast-track patent examination procedures in order to enable innovators from these regions to obtain patents faster and more efficiently.
Under the programme, patent applicants whose claims have been found to be patentable by either the EPO or these offices may ask for accelerated processing of their corresponding applications that are pending before the other office. The offices also agreed to refer to and share already existing work results as much as possible in such cases. This is expected to speed up the process and reduce costs for applicants.
"These agreements promote our joint efforts to increase the use of patents and improve conditions for innovation," said EPO President Battistelli. "Through this agreement European companies will strongly benefit from simplified access to patent protection in these three dynamic regions. This also means that patent applicants from Europe will now benefit from similar conditions in these markets as their counterparts from US or Japan. At the same time, for Canadian, Mexican and Singaporean innovators, the agreement opens an efficient route to high-quality patent protection in Europe," he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) Sylvain Laporte said: "This is a key development for Canada and, in particular, Canadian businesses and innovators, who have strongly expressed their need for a more coordinated global approach to patent examinations. We are pleased to be partnering with the EPO, as Europe is an important trading region for Canadian companies. This is also another demonstration of the Canadian government's efforts to reduce administrative burden on Canadian business."
Miguel Ángel Margáin, Director General of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property of the United Mexican States (IMPI), said: "This Pilot Programme not only updates the close relationship of cooperation between the Institute and EPO, but it also serves to improve the examination processes of every office, benefiting companies operating in both regions. As the world becomes more globalized, speeding up the granting of patents will undoubtedly increase business opportunities and access to markets in Europe and Mexico. " He added: "The PPH has been a successful and functional tool for users of the patent system in Mexico and its use has contributed to IMPI's positioning as a modern institution in line with international trends in the field of industrial property".
Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) Tan Yih San said: "EPO and IPOS are strong advocates for creativity and innovation, and this agreement is testimony to the commitment by both IP offices to help businesses invest and build a competitive edge with their IP. This collaboration is also a strong endorsement of the patent quality of both regions. We look forward to working closely with the EPO to better serve the needs of innovators in Singapore, the ASEAN region, and in Europe."