WIPO and Trilateral Offices Agree to Reinforce Ties

Geneva, September 26, 2003
Press Releases PR/2003/361

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Trilateral Offices - the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) - have agreed to reinforce collaboration to ensure delivery of more efficient services to users and to promote the benefits of the patent system. At a meeting in Geneva on the sidelines of the annual WIPO Assemblies on September 25, 2003 with EPO President, Mr. Ingo Kober, JPO Commissioner, Mr. Yasuo Imai, and US Deputy Under-Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, Mr. Jon Dudas, WIPO Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, stressed the need to move ahead with international efforts to promote reform of the patent system to ensure easier access for all users and to ensure that the system continues to serve the public interest.

Participants agreed on the important role of patents in stimulating technological progress, economic development and wealth creation. They noted that the growing number of patent filings around the world was indicative of the vital role of patents in stimulating growth and development. The meeting expressed concern over efforts by some interest groups to undermine the patent system. Such efforts impede constructive debate on how to best reform the patent system so that it continues to serve the public interest, while preserving the rights of inventors and acting as an incentive for research and development. Participants suggested that WIPO further engage member states in a policy dialogue on the well-established values of the patent system. In this regard, Dr. Idris briefed the participants on the latest developments regarding WIPO's Patent Agenda, which aims to coordinate future work, while not undermining or replacing existing initiatives such as harmonization of substantive patent law and reform of WIPO's Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The goal is to achieve an international patent system that is more user-friendly, coherent and accessible.

Dr. Idris noted the invaluable contribution of the Trilateral Offices. The three offices process over 90 per cent of all applications submitted through the PCT, a key international treaty that facilitates the process of obtaining patent protection in multiple countries. In addition, most of the world's patents are granted by these three offices. Dr. Idris pledged WIPO's continued close cooperation with the three offices to ensure delivery of more efficient services to the PCT user community.

The Director General invited representatives of the three offices to attend a WIPO meeting on November 24, 2003, entitled "PCT - At the Heart of Your Business Strategy" which will provide a forum for users of the patent system to share their experience and expectations of the PCT system as a strategic business tool. Participants will have the opportunity to express their views on the impact of the latest developments in the PCT system and on possible improvements to better address PCT user needs. Representatives of the world's three major patent offices agreed with the Director General and his top patent aides on the timeliness of this meeting. Major reforms of the PCT will enter into force at the beginning of 2004. The Assembly of the PCT Union adopted this week amendments to PCT fees, including proposals for greater availability of fee reductions for applicants from least developed countries and a new schedule of fee reductions where the international application is filed in fully electronic form.

PCT reform includes an enhanced search report which facilitates the evaluation of technology by users of the PCT system. Given that some 90 per cent of PCT search reports were prepared by the Trilateral Offices in 2002, WIPO agreed with the representatives to step up efforts for renewed cooperation to ensure the quality of the enhanced search reports as well as efficiency of the PCT operation, which is being progressively automated through WIPO's IMPACT (Information Management for the PAtent Cooperation Treaty) Project and systems developed respectively by the Trilateral Offices.

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