July 22, 2020
On July 21, 2020, the 13th IP5 Heads of Office Meeting was held via video conference, bringing together the heads of the five intellectual property (IP) offices: the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) (hereinafter referred to as “IP5 Offices”). At the meeting, the heads exchanged views on measures for addressing COVID-19 and agreed on the scope of future cooperation in the fields of new emerging technologies (NET)*(1) and artificial intelligence (AI) and other issues.
The number of patent applications filed with the IP5 Offices was around 2.84 million in 2018, accounting for around 85% of around 3.33 million patent applications filed worldwide in the same year.
In light of this situation, since the launch of the IP5 Heads of Office Meeting in 2007, the IP5 Offices have been holding the heads meetings on a regular basis to address issues, including mutual utilization of examination results, streamlining of procedures and improvement of examination quality at three working groups (WG1: Classification; WG2: Information Technology; and WG3: Examination) as well as at expert or working-level panels (the Patent Harmonization Experts Panel (PHEP); and the NET/AI Task Force) and other bodies.
*Note 1. The term “NET” is an acronym for “New Emerging Technologies.”
2. Results of the IP5 Heads of Office Meeting
(1) Measures for addressing COVID-19
The IP5 Offices reaffirmed the importance of IP protection to support innovation to tackle COVID-19, and exchanged views on measures that the offices have implemented to soften the impact of the pandemic on user-friendliness for applicants or inventors in terms of procedures. At the 13th meeting, they agreed to further strengthen the IP5 cooperation to meet the needs of patent system users even in the post COVID-19 era.
(2) Scope of future cooperation in the fields of NET and AI
The IP5 Offices inaugurated a task force to address NET and AI and, since then, the task force has been discussing details of cooperation. At the 13th meeting, the IP5 Offices agreed that the task force will advance discussions on the scope of cooperation in two aspects: the legal aspect, e.g., comparative study of examination practices in NET and AI among the IP5 Offices and preparation of a collection of examination case examples; and the IT-system aspect, e.g., information exchange on progress in introduction of these technologies to the services of the respective offices and identification of best practices to solve common challenges. The offices also agreed that they will prepare a roadmap of the work.
(3) Collaborative search and examination under the PCT
The IP5 Offices opened a reception counter for applications for a pilot program of the collaborative search and examination under the PCT* (3) for two years from the opening date in July 2018 to the closing date on June 30, 2020. At the 13th meeting, the offices agreed to extend the period during which they assess the ongoing pilot program by one year and to conduct the assessment for two years until June 2022.
*Note 3: The term “collaborative search and examination under the PCT” refers to a framework under which the primary and secondary patent offices collaboratively decide on the patentability of a PCT international application, prepare an international search report involving the application, and provide them to the applicant.
(4) Guidelines on virtual-style meetings
The IP5 Offices have been proactively advancing virtual-style meetings by taking advantage of video conferences, electronic forums and other means, amidst the current situation where the IP5 Offices have been facing physical transfer limitations due to COVID-19. At the 13th meeting, the IP5 Offices agreed to the guidelines that were prepared with knowledge accumulated in the past so that the offices can effectively and efficiently advance virtual-style meetings. The offices will further facilitate their cooperation while taking advantage of virtual-style meetings.
Note: Participants in the meeting:
JPO: Mr. Kasutani Toshihide, Commissioner, and other officials
USPTO: Mr. Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary, and other officials
EPO: Mr. António Campinos, President, and other officials
CNIPA: Mr. Shen Changyu, Commissioner, and other officials
KIPO: Mr. Park Wonjoo, Commissioner, and other officials
Observers from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): Mr. Francis Gurry, Director General, and other officials
IP5 Heads of Office Meeting (Commissioner Kasutani at the front)
IP5 Heads and Mr. Gurry, Director General of WIPO
Division in Charge
International Policy Division, Policy Planning and Coordination Department, Japan Patent Office