Trilateral Patent Offices Step Closer on Patent Harmonization

Written by Gene Quinn, of IPWatchdog and Practice Center Contributor.

In view of the growing need for innovator companies to obtain patent protection in multiple Patent Office around the world simultaneously, leaders of the most heavily used patent regimes continue to seek ways to streamline the process and engage in work sharing. In an effort to continue to move forward in the absence of true global cooperation, the Trilateral Offices at their 29th Trilateral Conference considered proposals to reduce the burden for patent applicants by increasing cooperation on procedures and improving the exchange of procedural information.

Meeting for their Annual Trilateral Conference near Paris, France, the heads of the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) – collectively known as the Trilateral Offices – pushed forward earlier this week with efforts to further harmonize global patent systems. The Trilateral Offices agreed on steps to enhance efficiency in patent-related procedures.

Click here for Gene Quinn’s full article on IPWatchdog.

Current Developments in the Trilateral Patent Offices

James M. Heintz, a partner in the Intellectual Property and Technology practice group at DLA Piper, sent in this article discussing patent harmonization among the European Patent Office, the Japanese Patent Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

In an informative discussion in Washington, DC , the heads of the three trilateral patent offices provided insight into the direction they are heading and summarized recent developments in the three offices.

The Honorable Benoit Battistelli, president of the European Patent Office, the Honorable Yoshiyuki Iwai, commissioner of the Japanese Patent Office, and the Honorable David J. Kappos, director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, met in late 2010 in a session sponsored by the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

President Battistelli began his remarks by expressing his surprise that more applicants were not using the EPO’s fasttrack procedure (also referred to as the Patent Prosecution Highway). President Battistelli pointed out that fast-track requests comprised only 7 percent of EPO applications in the last year (16 percent of which were applications originating from the US), despite the fact that requesting fast-track treatment does not require any fees and the request is simple. He also noted the need to raise the bar for greater legal certainty that patents issued by the EPO would be enforceable. Finally, President Battistelli reiterated his support for European patents and centralized litigation. (more…)