EPO-USPTO co-operation to support innovators

8 October 2020

Meeting USTPO

EPO President António Campinos met with Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Andrei Iancu. The two heads of Office took part in a video conference earlier this week to discuss efforts to support innovation and innovators who are playing a key role in advancing technology and economic recovery.

President Campinos and Director Iancu spoke about the latest measures put in place at the EPO and USPTO to support the IP community during the pandemic, and progress on joint activities under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on bilateral co-operation signed in October 2019. The MoU covers areas such as tools and procedures to enhance access to patent data, patent quality and reliability of patent rights; new concepts for work-sharing; as well as IT systems and tools aimed at benefiting both office staff and users.

"The global challenges created by the pandemic make it more important than ever to work together," said EPO President Campinos. "We want to build on our longstanding relationship in order to support innovators at this crucial time, by providing the best possible services and by building a patent system that truly supports innovation," he said.

The EPO President and USPTO Director underlined the importance of fostering co-operation with other partners, especially within the Trilateral co-operation (EPO, USPTO and Japan Patent Office) and the five largest intellectual property offices in the world, also known as the IP5 (EPO, USPTO, JPO and the patent offices of China and South Korea).

They exchanged views on developments in Europe related to the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court, and trends at international level, with companies and inventors increasingly using an overlapping bundle of intellectual property rights to protect their innovations.

The meeting also served as an opportunity to advance joint projects including the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) - a classification tool developed by the EPO and USPTO aimed at improving public access to technical information contained in patent documents - and now actively used for classification by about 30 offices worldwide. The two offices already use machine learning systems to accurately allocate search files to the best suited patent examiners, thereby increasing quality and efficiency, and reducing costs in the administration of patent applications. The two heads of office agreed to intensify exchanges in this area.

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