4 December 2020
EPO President António Campinos and Commissioner of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) Shen Changyu discussed recent developments and future co-operation between the offices at their annual bilateral meeting today.
During the virtual meeting, the offices welcomed the start of a two-year pilot under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) framework. As of 1 December 2020, nationals and residents of the P.R. China have the option of selecting the EPO as their International Searching Authority (ISA) when filing international patent applications under the PCT for which either the CNIPA or the World Intellectual Property Organization's International Bureau acts as receiving office. Under the pilot, applicants also have the possibility to file a Chapter II demand with the EPO acting as International Preliminary Examination Authority (IPEA).
President Campinos and Commissioner Shen emphasised that the launch of the PCT-ISA pilot is a milestone in the longstanding bilateral co-operation between the EPO and CNIPA, and that it is the latest example of how this co-operation benefits not only the offices, but also companies, researchers and inventors seeking to protect their inventions internationally.
In order to further support applicants, and in view of the longstanding exchange of patent citations between the offices, the heads also agreed to look into the possibility of the EPO granting an exemption under Rule 141(2) (EPC) for Chinese applicants. This would lead to a more efficient and quicker procedure at the EPO, and eliminate the need for users to file search results or to reply to invitations to provide these results. This exemption could be formalised in the course of 2021.
At the end of the meeting, the two heads of office signed their annual workplan for 2021 as well as an extension of their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on data exchange, and an extension of their agreement on the use of the EPO's professional patent search tool EPOQUE Net.
35 years of EPO-CNIPA co-operation
Bilateral co-operation between the EPO and CNIPA dates back 35 years to the signing of a first MoU between the two patent offices in 1985. In 2017 the EPO and the Chinese office elevated their co-operation to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
The CNIPA received more than 1.4 million applications for invention patents in 2019. China is now the fourth most active country of origin for European patent applications, with strong growth from Chinese applicants at the EPO in recent years (+29% in 2019).