5 March 2018
EPO President Benoît Battistelli, the Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) Naoko Munakata, and the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Andrei Iancu, held their annual Trilateral heads of office meeting last week in Hakone, Japan, hosted by the JPO. JPO Commissioner Munakata, who chaired the meeting, published the following statement, agreed by the three heads of office:
"The heads of the Trilateral offices (EPO, JPO and USPTO) held their annual meeting in Hakone, Japan this week. The 36th annual Trilateral conference was preceded by a meeting between the offices and industry associations from the three regions. Topics discussed included substantive patent law harmonisation, examination practices of computer related inventions, the 4th Industrial Revolution and new technologies, and implications of essentiality checks on standard essential patents.
In view of new developments and new technologies such as the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, the JPO and the EPO presented an interim report on their comparative study of examination practices of computer implemented inventions.
The Trilateral offices also agreed to continue discussing issues relating to standard essential patents at the level of the IP5.
Regarding substantive patent law harmonisation, the Trilateral Industry representatives reported on progress of their work on a proposal for a package of internationally harmonised norms (on the grace period, conflicting applications, the definition of prior art and prior user rights), indicating they aim to arrive at a successful conclusion by late 2018."
Speaking afterwards, EPO President Battistelli said: "I am pleased that this meeting has been successful, in particular the discussions on standard essential patents, where we all agreed that an international approach is preferable to national ones. We are looking forward to continuing to work with European industry on this issue to achieve the right balance for all stakeholders."
The next Trilateral heads of office meeting will take place in spring 2019, and will be hosted by the USPTO.