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Results of the 30th Annual Trilateral Conference of the JPO, the EPO, and the USPTO

On November 15 and 16, 2012, the Trilateral Offices-namely the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and the European Patent Office (EPO)-held the 30th Trilateral Conference and other meetings in Kyoto, Japan. The conference was organized by the JPO. On this occasion to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the trilateral cooperation, these offices reflected on the history of such cooperation and agreed that they will continue to play a leading role, as the world's major patent offices, in establishing a global patent system through the trilateral cooperation.

The JPO will actively promote work-sharing, the development of an IT infrastructure, and the harmonization of patent systems and operations, taking advantage of mutual understanding of and trust in each other's patent systems and operations, which have been built under the 30-year cooperation.

1. Background

The Trilateral Offices-namely the JPO, the USPTO and the EPO-have made efforts to advance the trilateral cooperation in the patent field.

The trilateral cooperation began in 1983, with projects for the digitalization of a huge amount of paper patent documents and the establishment of a database. Since then, the offices have made many achievements, such as the trilateral cooperation in the patent-examination area, including the digitalization of patent filing procedures, the exchanging of patent-related electronic data between the offices, and the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH),Note 1 which are now shared by other patent offices in many developed and developing countries and regions through the framework of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

In Kyoto on November 15 and 16, 2012, the Trilateral Offices held the 30th Trilateral Conference, which was organized by the JPO. Taking advantage of the occasion, they also held an Anniversary Symposium celebrating the 30th anniversary of the trilateral cooperation.

Note 1: Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)
This is a patent system under which applicants are able to request smooth, simple examination of their applications at a patent office when the application was deemed to be granted a patent right by another office at which the application was originally filed.

2. Summary of the Anniversary Symposium

On November 15, the JPO held an Anniversary Symposium celebrating the 30th anniversary of the trilateral cooperation, and many people involved in the related industries and universities, and others took part in the symposium.

Mr. Keiji Yamada, Governor of Kyoto Prefecture, welcomed the participants with his opening remarks, and then Dr. Masao Horiba, Supreme Counsel of Horiba, Ltd., presented a special lecture. In the lecture, Dr. Horiba pointed out that people hold high expectations of intellectual property even under the current economic stagnation, and that the Trilateral Offices bear a heavy responsibility to meet such expectations.

In addition, Mr. Hiroyuki Fukano, Commissioner of the JPO, Ms. Teresa Stanek Rea, Deputy Director of the USPTO, and Mr. Raimund Lutz, Vice President for Legal and International Affairs of the EPO, made speeches on the current situations surrounding patents in Japan, the U.S., and Europe. Following these speeches, a discussion was held in a panel form with participants representing the industry sectors of the trilateral areas, focusing on future trilateral cooperation and reflecting on the achievements made through such cooperation. In this discussion, such representatives acclaimed the role played by the Trilateral Offices and expressed their expectations for further cooperation among the offices toward work-sharing, harmonization of patent systems and operations, and other issues.

3. Summary of the results of the Trilateral Conference; Declaration on the 30th Anniversary of Trilateral Cooperation

On November 16, the Trilateral Commissioners held the Trilateral Conference.

The conference considered the global challenges commonly faced by patent offices that today: with economic activities becoming ever more globalized, the number of applications for the same patent being filed for various countries is increasing, which causes the problem that users of the patent systems have to wait longer for examination, and the examination workload at patent offices in countries and regions is growing.

The Trilateral Offices have deepened mutual understanding and built trust in each other by making a variety of efforts, such as patent examination cooperation, including the examination of 10,000 or more applications through the PPH, examiner exchanges through which 600 or more examiners have been exchanged, and more than 150 meetings. Based on such understanding and trust building, the Trilateral Offices agreed to continue further enhancement of various efforts, such as the improvement of the PPH and Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT),Note 2 the harmonization of patent systems and operations, and the development of information system foundations.

In addition, the Trilateral Offices compiled their resolutions into the Declaration on the 30th Anniversary of Trilateral Cooperation. In the statement, considering that half of the world's applications are filed with the Trilateral Offices, the offices underlined that they will make use of the experience they have gained and will lead the establishment of a global patent system.

Note 2: Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
This is a treaty defining a framework of an international patent application procedure, under which member countries are able to gain an advantage that when an applicant files an application with one office, the application is deemed to be filed with all the offices in other member countries at the same time.

4. Future efforts

The JPO will continue to further develop the global patent system though the trilateral cooperation, under which users of such patent system in Japan and other countries are able to acquire global patent rights with low cost and high predictability from an international point of view.


Release Date

November 16, 2012

Division in Charge

International Affairs Division, General Affairs Department, Japan Patent Office

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
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