Patenticulars

Challenge

Many patent offices around the world offer applicants the option to accelerate the substantive examination procedure under certain conditions, for example where the invention is considered particularly important for a country’s national industry or the applicant can make use of a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme.

In Brazil, the national IP legislation allows expedited examination for a distinctive reason which, as far as we are aware, does not exist in any other jurisdiction. What is this reason?

Challenge from the previous edition

Test your knowledge and search skills with our quiz about the patent history of additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing as it is also known. All the answers are in alphabetical order and there may be multiple correct answers.

Hint
Patent information tools such as Espacenet might be helpful, along with the report published on the EPO's Chief Economist's webpage or at epo.org/trends-3dp

Solution
1. Which AM technology did Charles Hull, a 3D printing pioneer and the winner of the European Inventor Award 2014, apply back in 1984 when he first applied for a patent?
(a) Electron beam melting
(b) Selective laser melting
(c) Stereolithography (correct)

See e.g. the page about Charles Hull as the winner of the European Inventor Award. Alternatively, have a look at the AM report or carry out a search in Espacenet.

2. Which CPC classification codes best describe the AM technology domain?
(a) B22F10 (correct)
(b) B29C
(c) B33Y (correct)
(d) B64G

Look for the relevant classifications in the Espacenet classification browser. B29C is too general, although B29C64 does concern polymer AM. B64G relates to cosmonautics/space technologies.
Note that materials, processes and applications might also be found in different areas of the classification scheme, so all areas need to be carefully explored for potentially relevant classes.

3. What is the AM application field that currently attracts most patent filings at the EPO?
(a) Food
(b) Health and medical (correct)
(c) Tooling

Have a look at page 12 of the AM report.

4. Which of the following countries were the top three filers for EP patents between 2010 and 2018?
(a) Brazil
(b) China
(c) Germany (correct)
(d) Japan (correct)
(e) United States of America (correct)

Have a look at page 14 of the AM report. Alternatively, carry out a search in Espacenet and then explore the Applicants – country category in the Filters module.

5. Which applicant was not among the top four applicants at the EPO in AM technology between 2010 and 2018?
(a) 3M (correct)
(b) HP
(c) Siemens
(d) United Technologies

Have a look at page 13 of the AM report. Alternatively, carry out a search in Espacenet and then explore the Applicants category in the Filters module.

6. Looking at the main areas of AM materials and processes shows that United Technologies is a very active player in the field. With which other company do they often collaborate?
(a) HP
(b) Raytheon (correct)
(c) Siemens
(d) Xerox

A search in Espacenet with subsequent filtering for United Technologies in the Applicants category will reveal Raytheon as the most frequently mentioned co-applicant.

7. When did machine learning/artificial intelligence start playing a role in AM technologies?
(a) 2000
(b) 2010
(c) 2014
(d) 2018 (correct)

Combining the main CPC fields with machine learning/artificial intelligence classes shows that the number of applications started to increase around 2018, albeit still in low numbers. Therefore, after having identified an appropriate classification symbol for machine learning/artificial intelligence (e.g. G06N3, neural networks) and carrying out the search, have a look at the Filters module in Espacenet and select the Publication date category to see the trends over time.

8. For which AM material were most patent applications filed at the EPO before 2014?
(a) Ceramics
(b) High-temperature superconductors
(c) Metals and alloys
(d) Polymers (correct)

Have a look at page 46 of the AM report.

9. By how much did annual applications at the EPO for the AM material with the most patent applications increase between 2011 and 2018?
(a) they increased twofold
(b) they increased threefold
(c) they increased fourfold (correct)
(d) they increased tenfold

Have a look at page 46 of the AM report.

10. How many other documents or patent families cite Charles Hull's 1984 EP application from question 1?
(a) 15 patent families
(b) 49 patent families (correct)
(c) 98 patent families
(d) 98 publications (correct)
(e) more than 500 patent families

Carry out a search in Espacenet. Note that above a certain threshold the citations can no longer be viewed in the Citations view; instead, the citations of a publication need to be searched for directly.

11. An opposition was filed against Charles Hull's EP application mentioned above. Who was the opponent and what was the outcome of the proceedings?
(a) Elix – opposition withdrawn/patent maintained as granted
(b) Elix – opposition successful/patent revoked
(c) EOS – opposition withdrawn/patent maintained as granted (correct)
(d) EOS – opposition rejected for formal reasons/patent maintained as amended
(e) Evonik– opposition partly successful/patent maintained as amended
(f) Evonik – opposition rejected for formal reasons/patent maintained as granted

Search for the relevant document in Espacenet and follow the link to the European Patent Register where you find opposition information in the About this file and All documents sections.

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