June 18, 2010
Member states of WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) – a cost-effective mechanism that facilitates the process of obtaining international patent protection – endorsed a series of recommendations to enhance the PCT’s contribution in improving the quality of granted patents and to make the international patent system more useful to developing countries. This came at the end of a round of discussions by PCT member states within the context of the PCT Working Group from June 14 to 18, 2010.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry welcomed the progress made. “These recommendations are an important step towards improving the operation of the international patent system for the benefit of all,” he said. “They will go a long way in creating the conditions that will enable WIPO member states to gain greater benefits from the international patent system."
The recommendations were drawn from a WIPO study entitled "The Need for Improving the Functioning of the PCT System", which examined, from a variety of perspectives, how the PCT is measuring up to its stated aims. The recommendations include measures to help reduce the unsustainable backlogs of some 4.2 million unprocessed patent applications around the world and improve the quality of granted patents. The patent offices of PCT member states will play a key role in implementing many of these recommendations.
The meeting endorsed a number of practical steps to be undertaken by WIPO in close cooperation with member states for implementation in the near future. These include the deployment of computer systems that allow third parties to alert patent offices about information which they believe shows that a patent application does not meet the conditions of patentability. Other electronic systems to be developed will support technology transfer by promoting the licensing of inventions and helping to identify information about technologies which are in the public domain. Such technologies may be freely used without the need to obtain authorization from any right holder.
The Working Group also commissioned a series of studies to assess how successful the PCT system has been in disseminating technical information, in facilitating access to technology and in providing technical assistance for developing countries. These studies will include recommendations on ways to boost the PCT’s performance in these areas and will also explore the possibility of extra-budgetary funding arrangements to finance technical assistance projects.
Deputy Director General James Pooley, who oversees WIPO’s activities relating to patents and innovation, applauded the constructive spirit of cooperation and compromise which had characterized the discussions. “The success of the discussions was grounded in the willingness of the delegations to communicate effectively with each other, allowing areas of common interest and creative solutions to emerge,” he said.
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