One Year On: IP Australia’s Regional Patent Examination Training Program
By Fatima Beattie, Deputy Director General, IP Australia
In April 2013, IP Australia embarked on developing and delivering an intensive online training program to participants in different countries and time zones – a challenge, but one worth pursuing based on the benefits already being realized.
Open web-based platforms that enable the aggregation, commentary and mapping of this knowledge by the community and that transcend any one jurisdiction or field of innovation, are also needed.
Launched with the support of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) Economic Cooperation Work Programme (ECWP), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Regional Patent Examination Training (RPET) Program had an inaugural intake that included eight examiners from Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Kenya and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO).
Traditionally, patent examiner training has been undertaken on an ad hoc basis, over short periods of time and face-to-face; an approach that does not provide for in-depth training and knowledge transfer. In light of this, IP Australia decided to develop a new learning experience that creates a community of learning backed-up with a support network.
The RPET program uses e-learning technology to provide modern, comprehensive and intensive competency-based training for patent examiners from different national IP offices. The training material is based on IP Australia’s existing training framework, introduced several years ago to improve the quality and consistency of examination output, and has a focus on search and examination to international standards in line with the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Trainees advance through the program on the basis of their progress rather than according to an artificial trainer-based timeline. They are periodically assessed against defined skills sets and standards of practice. Graduates of the RPET Program will have consistently demonstrated the application of their skills and knowledge to their own work.
Patricia Kelly, its Director General, noted that IP Australia has, for many years, been an active contributor to the development of patent examination capabilities around the world.
“We have delivered training programs, either by ourselves, or in partnership with other IP offices, including WIPO. However, these traditional training programs have been delivered over a short period of time, usually one or two weeks.”
“These kinds of time constraints mean that we have only been able to address a few of the skills necessary for world class patent examiners. This new style allows us to take this one step further.”
“We have taken our training that is conducted at IP Australia, with our own staff, and turned this into a collaborative distance based learning program.”
The Program helps enhance the consistency and quality of patent examination in participating offices, enabling them to boost their examination methods to international standards.
One year on
WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry congratulated IP Australia on the success of the RPET Program, stating that he had “always been convinced that this was an important initiative for providing a targeted and results-oriented approach in building patent examination capacity in developing countries and least-developed countries. This has been clearly confirmed through the positive feedback that WIPO has had from the two initial beneficiaries in Africa of the program.”
“They have all lauded the uniqueness of the Program and how beneficial it has been for them in terms of the high standards, quality and excellence of content.”
On RPET’s first anniversary, Ms Kelly commented that the Program “has illustrated that, with the use of modern technology, the sharing of knowledge no longer needs to run on an ad hoc, face-to-face basis. It can now be coordinated easily and effectively, allowing offices to share their knowledge in a more consistent way.”
Ms. Kelly added that “feedback received from the participants in the program has been very positive. Some offices have indicated that the structure of the Program with the involvement of both trainees and local supervisors makes it easier to implement positive change within their office. Some offices are considering modelling their own domestic training on the RPET Program approach.”
Dato’ Azizan Mohamad Sidin, Director General of the Malaysian Intellectual Property Office (MyIPO) said that “the RPET Program has helped inform other training programs that are being developed in the ASEAN region.”
MyIPO is leading the development of an ASEAN project called “Capacity Building for Patent Examiners - An Ideal Training Model” that is built on the principles of the RPET Program. “We have been able to leverage the good work of IP Australia’s RPET Program to assist in the development of an ideal training model, with the similar aim of RPET, to create a more consistent and comprehensive approach to training and improving patent examination standards in the region,” Dato’ Azizan added.
A second intake of trainees started the Program in March 2014. The 15 participants hail from ARIPO, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, and the Philippines, as well as Thailand and Vietnam.
“The 2014 intake has been made possible by funding provided by ASEAN, and WIPO continues to support African participation in the Program,” Ms Kelly said. “We are very grateful for the financial support the RPET Program has received as it enables IP Australia to extend the Program to more participants.”