Cooperation on the Use of Search and Examination Capacity

When conducting patent search and examination, search and examination expertise and resources available in other offices may be utilized. Different ways of international cooperation have been explored.

WIPO International Cooperation for Patent Examination (ICE)

The International Cooperation for Examination (ICE) service of WIPO provides search and examination reports for patent applications filed with industrial property offices in developing countries which have limited substantive examination capacities for the preparation of such reports. The reports are prepared by various donor Offices on a pro-bono basis.

Regional/Plurilateral cooperation

Some patent offices use external resources to perform substantive examination, fully or partly, while maintaining the autonomy of the patent office to make a final decision on grant of a patent. For instance, some offices limit substantive examination to certain strategic fields of technology for the country concerned, while applications relating to other fields of technology may be subject to formality examination only or to outsourcing either within or outside the country.

Bilateral Cooperation

Some patent offices use external resources to perform substantive examination, fully or partly, while maintaining the autonomy of the patent office to make a final decision on grant of a patent. For instance, some offices limit substantive examination to certain strategic fields of technology for the country concerned, while applications relating to other fields of technology may be subject to formality examination only or to outsourcing either within or outside the country.

For example, the following bilateral cooperation arrangements on the use of search and examination capacity exist between the following Offices:

  • Monaco−EPO Agreement. The Principality of Monaco signed an agreement with the EPO in 2008, whereby, when an application for a national patent is filed and if expressly requested by the applicant, the EPO produces a prior art search report to enable the applicant to assess the chances of subsequently obtaining a European patent.
  • Papua New Guinea. According to a cooperation agreement between Intellectual Property Office of Papua New Guinea (IPOPNG) and IP Australia, IP Australia conducts substantive examinations for patent applications on behalf of IPOPNG.
  • Croatia. The Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Croatia signed agreements on performing search and substantive examination with the Austrian Patent Office and with the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Portugal. The Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI PT) signed in 2016 an agreement with the Cape Verde Institute of Quality Management and Intellectual Property (IGQPI), according to which the INPI PT supports the IGQPI at its request in the analysis of patent, utility model and supplementary protection certificate applications.