Joint statement of EPO and CNIPA on response to COVID-19

30 June 2020

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The European Patent Office (EPO) and the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) stand in full solidarity with all those affected by COVID-19.

After over three decades of strong bilateral co-operation, the EPO and CNIPA have built a comprehensive strategic partnership that contributes to higher quality patents and greater harmonisation in the patent system. The relationship between China and Europe is also reflected in the growing number of applications received by the EPO and the CNIPA. In 2019 the EPO received almost 30% more applications from the People's Republic of China than in the previous year. EPC member countries also filed 42,000 invention patent applications in China, marking an increase of 4.9% over the previous year.

As the economic effects of the coronavirus start to materialise, business continuity is needed more than ever. Industries that intensively use intellectual property rights play a fundamental role in supporting our economies. In the EU they generate 39% of EU employment and 45% of GDP. Similarly, in 2018, the added value of China's patent-intensive industries reached 10.7 trillion Yuan, accounting for 11.6% of GDP, becoming an important support for the high-quality development of China's economy. Going forward, these industries will prove instrumental in the recovery of the global economy.

The EPO and the CNIPA are fully committed to implementing measures that ensure users across the world have access to high-quality patent protection in Europe and the People's Republic of China. Specifically, the EPO has extended time limits and fee deadlines, as well as offering users greater flexibility by holding oral proceedings via video conferences, while the CNIPA has restored rights, reduced requested certification materials and waived fees for overdue patent annual fee payment. These measures have provided unprecedented levels of support for users.

The EPO and the CNIPA will continue to support the fight against the pandemic by enriching public patent databases and making sources of patent information available. These information sources are pivotal for all those who play a central role in our societies' efforts to defeat COVID-19, including research institutions and universities. The patent literature provided by both Offices is crucial for research, as consulting our patent databases enables scientists to constantly monitor state-of-the-art innovation and develop it further. Public databases such as Espacenet contain over110 million patent documents from around the world. The CNIPA's Patent Search and Analysis System provides enriched search and research functions, including medicine search and patent analysis, among others.

In the current difficult time of the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EPO and the CNIPA are united in our efforts to support users based on the long-term, friendly and dynamic co-operation between our Offices. We will work together to ensure that our Offices continue to support users as they navigate the challenges created by the global pandemic and as they emerge into a post-coronavirus landscape.

  • António Campinos
    EPO President
  • Shen Changyu
    CNIPA Commissioner

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