International co-operation agreements signed in Geneva

10 October 2016

An EPO delegation has attended the annual Assemblies of the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva last week.  The Assemblies provide an opportunity to meet with partners from around the world. The EPO was there to undertake a series of discussions promoting efficiency, quality and better integration of the global patent system, as well as signing a number of agreements with patent offices from across the world.

Three Memoranda of Understanding were signed with the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO) relating to Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC), the extension of EPOQUE Net (the EPO's professional online patent search tool) until the end of 2018, and a two-year work plan covering CPC training, data exchange, the future Espacenet and outreach activities. An agreement was also signed with Rospatent extending its involvement in the CPC, and a work plan on bilateral co-operation was signed with the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce of Colombia and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriete Intellectuelle (OAPI) (African Intellectual Property Organization).

PPH pilot programmes

During the Assemblies, the EPO also agreed to launch Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programmes with the patent offices of Malaysia, the Philippines and Russia to accelerate the treatment of patent applications. The programmes were signed by EPO President, Benoît Battistelli, and Dato' Shamsiah Kamaruddin, Director General of the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia, Josephine Santiago, Director General of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, and Rospatent Director General, Grigory Petrovich Ivliev.

"These schemes promote our joint efforts to increase the use of patents to boost innovation and trade," said EPO President Battistelli. "They will enable European companies to benefit from simplified access to patent protection in these three dynamic regions. The fast-track treatment also opens up an efficient route to high-quality patent protection in Europe for innovators from Malaysia, the Philippines and Russia." 

The pilot programmes will leverage fast-track patent examination procedures in order to enable innovators from the regions involved to obtain patents faster and more efficiently. Under the pilots, which will initially run for 3 years starting in the course of 2017, 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 EPO already has PPH pilot programmes with the IP5 offices (a grouping of the world's five largest IP offices, made up of the EPO plus the patent offices of China, Japan, Korea, and the US), as well as with the national patent offices of Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico and Singapore.

The latest addition - a fast-track programme with Colombia - officially began on 1 October 2016 and will run for an initial period of three years. It follows the signing of a bilateral co-operation agreement by EPO President Battistelli and Pablo Felipe Robledo del Castillo, Colombia's Superintendent of Industry and Commerce, in February 2016.

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