As the world's five largest intellectual property offices increase cooperation to improve their services, the business community expects greater benefits from their collaboration, said executives at a three-day, IP-themed meeting last week in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.
Last week, senior IP officials from China, the European Union, South Korea, Japan and the United States, collectively known in the industry as IP5, gathered at the Suzhou National New and High-Tech Industrial Development Zone to advance possible solutions to the duplication of work among the offices, improve the efficiency and quality of patent examinations, and guarantee the stability of patent rights. The meeting lasted from May 20 to 22.
"Their increased cooperation helps offer better services for international patent filers, whether they are big or small businesses," said Fan Zhiyong, vice-president of IP strategy at Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a telecommunication giant with an international outreach.
Zheng Yongfeng, general counsel of Tasly Holding Group, a high-tech company in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, said he hopes the offices can further simplify processing procedures and reduce the duplication of work, which in turn will lead to a substantial reduction in costs for overseas applications.
"They have already done a good job with the Patent Prosecution Highway," said Zheng, referring to a program that enables each participating patent office to benefit from work previously done by foreign peers and provides accelerated patent prosecution procedures through the sharing of information.
"Trust in the quality of patent examinations from other offices is the basis for the sharing of information," said Feng Xiaobing, deputy director of the patent examination department at the State Intellectual Property Office, at a business community meeting on May 21.
To create a more user-friendly environment and promote participation in the expanded PPH network, China has launched a common request form for patent filers.
To date, 13 IP offices worldwide have adopted the request form, including two IP5 members - the European Patent Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office, said Zhang Peng, deputy director general of SIPO's International Cooperation Department.
South Korea, Canada, Denmark and Britain agreed this year to use the common request form, while the Japan Patent Office plans to adopt it after its IT system is prepared.
Tasly's General Counsel Zheng said he also expected the five major IP offices to advance other cooperative projects, such as the Global Dossier, a free online file inspection service that EPO and SIPO began offering in 2014. It enables direct access to SIPO's publicly available documents on the EPO website.
Patent data from Japan and South Korea were added to the service system in April.
"We will have American data by the end of next month," said EPO President Benoit Battistelli.
At the end of last year, SIPO launched an online patent information system to offer free downloads of patent documents stockpiled at the five offices.
Battistelli said he is optimistic about cooperation among the five offices.
"It started only a few years ago. We've already achieved a lot of progress and achievements."
SIPO Commissioner Shen Changyu told China Daily, "The patent system plays an instrumental role in motivating innovation. Hosting the IP5 meeting provides opportunities for multifaceted exchanges and helps fuel the growth of inventions in our country."
"We can learn about the latest developments in other IP offices and their expertise in patent protection, utilization and management at the meeting."
SIPO data shows that Japan ranked first in terms of overseas patent applications filed with the office in 2014, with the US taking second and Germany third, followed by South Korea and France. They contributed 82 percent of total overseas filings processed by SIPO last year.
On May 22, IP5 officials signed a joint statement to emphasize the importance of satisfying users' needs, especially from small businesses and individuals, Shen said.
Its influence can go beyond the IP5 group and help boost the development of the entire IP industry, he said.
"I believe we will develop increasingly closer ties for more effective cooperation."
John Sandage, deputy director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization, said IP5 represent 85 percent of international patent applications filed through the Patent Cooperation Treaty worldwide every year,
"So it is a hugely important constituency for us."
(China Daily 05/27/2015 page17)