EPO enhances international co-operation role during WIPO Assemblies

10 October 2017

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EPO President Benoît Battistelli attended the annual World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Assemblies in Geneva last week to hold talks with counterparts from national patent offices (NPOs) and European industry in a series of bilateral and multilateral events. The annual WIPO Assemblies are viewed as a valuable opportunity for NPOs to meet with other patent offices from around the world. The EPO delegation's intense agenda included over 35 official engagements with NPOs, including meetings with user associations and NPOs from Africa, Asia, North America and South America.

A central focus of the meetings was the measures that the EPO is undertaking to deliver legally robust patents by working with patent offices in other regions. During the talks the EPO discussed how initiatives such as validation agreements, the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) and the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) scheme can support greater quality and efficiency in the patent granting process. Together with its international partners, the EPO also assessed how enhanced cooperation could help achieve reductions in backlogs and improve timeliness.

‘The annual WIPO Assemblies are a great opportunity for us to meet with colleagues from across the globe,' said President Battistelli. ‘This week has underlined that there's a strong desire among other patent offices to work more closely with us. By enhancing this international cooperation, the EPO and NPOs can improve their services and ultimately that will bring more benefits to our users and innovation.'

President Battistelli with representatives from Morocco, Moldova and Tunisia, as well as with validation candidate regions Brunei, Jordan, Malaysia and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI).

Among the agreed measures was the announcement of the entry into force of a validation agreement with Tunisia as of 1 December 2017. Tunisia will be the third county to join the system, extending the possible coverage of a European patent to 43 countries. Validation has proved an attractive way for countries to reduce their backlog, while benefiting from the EPO's high quality search and examination.

With the conclusion of a PPH pilot agreement with Brazil, the EPO also took an important step in improving access to the Brazilian market for users of the European patent system.

During the PCT Union Assembly, the EPO was re-appointed International Search Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority for a further 10 years. The EPO also signed a three-year comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral co-operation with WIPO, further strengthening the attractiveness of the PCT, the main entry route for patent applications at the EPO.

The President also met individually with the heads of the IP5 offices to take stock of developments and plan next year's Trilateral and IP5 meetings.  

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