17 January 2020
The five largest intellectual property offices held the inaugural meeting of their joint Task Force on New Emerging Technologies and Artificial Intelligence this week in Berlin. Known as the “IP5”, the five offices – which are the EPO, the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) – together handle about 85% of the world’s patent applications. The meeting was organised jointly by the EPO and KIPO.
Launched at the IP5 annual meeting last June in Incheon, South Korea, the new task force will explore the legal, technical and policy aspects of new technologies and AI, their impact on the patent system and on operations at our five offices. The aim is to pinpoint which areas can most benefit from joint IP5 responses, ranging from employing AI to improve the patent grant process, to applying the patentability requirements to inventions in the field of AI, and handling applications for inventions created by machines.
“This task force is the IP5 offices’ first joint response to a changing global patenting landscape and evolving user needs in the field,” said Christoph Ernst, the EPO’s Vice-President for Legal and International Affairs, opening the event. He added: “New emerging technologies and AI touch upon almost every aspect of daily life and seem to question the traditional models for the generation and utilisation of knowledge flows and decision-making. This translates into considerable challenges in IP, and the task force is a chance for us to demonstrate that we, as the world’s leading offices, are agile and responsive to change.”
In his opening remarks, the Director of the International Co-operation Division at KIPO, Daewon Lee, highlighted the benefits of co-operation given that the five offices face similar challenges and opportunities when it comes to rapidly-evolving technologies: “We hope to learn from each other and help each other,” he said.
The meeting was attended by 30 experts from the legal, patent examination and IT departments of the five offices, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. Over one-and-a-half days, participants took stock of ongoing work in the area of AI and new emerging technologies – not only at their individual offices but also within the main IP5 working groups – and set out a list of areas for possible future IP5 co-operation in legal, IT and strategic aspects. They also discussed how to involve representatives of industry from the five regions in the task force in order to receive their feedback and raise awareness of the benefits of IP5 projects for users of the patent system.
By June the task force aims to develop a scoping document for work in the area of AI and new emerging technologies to be submitted to the heads of the five offices.
For the EPO, hosting the first task force meeting in Berlin aligns with the Office’s Strategic Plan 2023, under which the EPO plans to develop its Berlin office into a centre of expertise on Artificial Intelligence.