Almost a quarter of all European patent filings originate from the US
US patent filings in Europe grew by 2.8% to highest figure ever
General Electric and Qualcomm biggest patent filers from the US
US companies strongest in medical technology and IT sector
EPO President Benoît Battistelli: “Europe is a premier hub of innovation.”
Brussels, 6 March 2014 – Patent filings at the European Patent Office (EPO) hit a new record in 2013, with applications coming from the US growing by 2.8% (2012: +5.1%). Last year US companies deposited 64 967, or 24.5%, of all European patent filings (2012: 63 198), which confirms the US as the No. 1 among all countries at the EPO, ahead of Japan (52 437; +1.2%) and Germany (32 022, -5.4%). It is the highest number of patents ever filed by US companies within one year at the EPO.
In the last decade, European patent filings originating in the US grew an average 2.2% per year. Since 2004 the number of US patent filings in Europe has risen by more than 20%.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosted a meeting of the heads of the world’s five largest intellectual property offices in Cupertino, California. Known as the IP5, members include the USPTO, the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO).
During the meeting, the heads renewed their commitment to develop the “Global Dossier,” a system to simplify the viewing and management of applications filed in the IP5 Offices. The heads also agreed to adopt the Global Classification Initiative, a new effort to harmonize patent classification. The heads confirmed the adoption of an IP5 Patent Information (PI) policy, pursuant to which each of the offices will work towards providing barrier free access to patent data. The heads reaffirmed work-sharing in the framework of IP5 cooperation, and endorsed the development of a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot project between all IP5 Offices. Additionally, the heads stressed the need to advance harmonization of substantive and procedural patent law. To this end, the heads reviewed the progress in the work of the IP5 Patent Harmonization Experts Panel, and considered next steps.
On February 19, 24 members of the 27 European Union signed a unified patent court agreement in Brussels, Belgium. Bulgaria is expected to sign once it completes internal administrative procedures, but because the single patent will only need to be in English, German or French, only the countries of Poland and Spain have so far refused to join in the effort.
What does this all mean?
Efficient patent protection in Europe is a cost-intensive procedure. Overall, the acquisition of patent protection in all 27 European Union (EU) member states, including the costs of litigation, costs around 36,000.00 EUR (approx. US $48,000) today to book. This compares to an average price of a U.S. patent of 1850.00 EUR (US $2,500).
In light of these high costs, efforts have been made over the last 30 years to make patents uniformly applicable. Although the agreement for a European patent was signed in 1975, it hasn’t been close to reality until recently.
In 2011, an Advisory Committee (AC) was instructed by the Hong Kong Government to conduct a review of the Hong Kong Patent System. The AC held a consultation period from October to end-December 2011, soliciting input from the patent and general legal profession, academia, political organizations, and trade bodies.
On 7 February 2013, the AC issued its formal Report (209 pages long) recommending various changes to the system which will affect not only Patentees, but the entire Patent profession in Hong Kong. In general, the AC’s Report recommends three changes which can be described as being quite bold in some areas, whilst at the same time, being conservative as the changes permit much of the existing system to be retained.
The AC’s recommended changes fall into three categories: the introduction of an “Original Grant Patent” (OGP), the refinement of the Short Term Patent system and the introduction of a regulatory framework for the Hong Kong Patent profession, which at present is not regulated.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) today announced the formal launch of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system, a global classification system for patent documents.
An ambitious harmonization effort, CPC is the product of a joint partnership between the USPTO and the EPO to develop a common, internationally compatible classification system for technical documents used in the patent granting process that incorporates the best classification practices from both offices. It will be used by the USPTO and more than 45 patent offices – a user community totaling more than 20,000 patent examiners – all sharing the same classifications helping to establish the CPC as an international standard.
The European Patent Office (EPO) welcomed the adoption by the European Parliament in Strasbourg of two draft regulations on the creation of the unitary patent, hailing it as a historic achievement. “The European Union is to be congratulated on this decision, which clears the way for the completion of the European patent system with a unitary patent and a Unified Patent Court, which we have been waiting for in Europe for 40 years,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. “The significant lowering of the cost of patenting inventions in Europe will strongly benefit European enterprises, especially research centres and SMEs. The vision of the founding fathers of the EPO to equip the European economy with a truly supranational patent system now can become a reality, strengthening Europe’s competitiveness.”
The European patent with unitary effect (unitary patent) in the 25 participating states is based on two regulations, one creating the instrument, and one on the applicable language regime for the new patent. The EPO has been entrusted by 25 EU member states to deliver and administer unitary patents. The third element of the package is the creation of a unified patent litigation system set up under an international convention establishing the Unified Patent Court (UPC), a specialised court with a first and an appeal instance with exclusive jurisdiction concerning infringement and validity questions related to unitary patents. The positive vote in the Parliament became possible after the EU member states endorsed the regulations in their Competitiveness Council meeting on Monday. The unitary patent now has to be formally adopted by the EU Council and the European Parliament, which is expected soon.
Heads of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) – collectively known as the Trilateral Offices – met in Kyoto, Japan earlier this week to hold their annual Trilateral Conference, which marks their 30th anniversary this year. Since 1983, the Trilateral Offices have worked together to produce new databases and IT systems, evolving their cooperation by conducting various projects designed to solve common challenges. Indeed, the Trilateral Offices have led the way on international patent cooperation and laid the groundwork for work sharing efforts globally.
Meanwhile, a coalition of the world’s five largest patent offices – the IP5 – earlier today announced the release of the IP5 Statistics Report 2011 Edition. The IP5 is comprised of the USPTO, the EPO, the JPO, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO). These IP5 Offices together handle approximately 80% of the world’s patent applications. The IP5 began meeting in 2007 and have since worked together to explore ways to further optimize their joint efforts to improve quality and efficiency of the examination process and to explore and optimize work sharing opportunities between the Offices.
All of the accomplishments of the IP5 and Trilateral Offices “lead to improving global patent systems today,” said Hiroyuki Fukano, Commissioner of JPO. “It is our current task to build an appropriate framework in which applicants are able to be granted patents smoothly in every corner of the world. In order to achieve building truly global patent systems in a global era, we would like to take the lead in developing such global patent systems.”
Have you ever wonder how could the skilled person look like? What about an inventor? We talk about the mythical person of skill in the art, and romanticize the inventor, whether an independent inventor or professional inventor, but what comes to mind when you talk about these people?
Well if you have never given time to consider an appropriate representation of these people no worries. Pierre Favre, an examiner from the European Patent Office who is one of 18 examiners working in the area of solar cell technology, and Tina Heuter, an artist from Berlin, Germany, worked together for many years to create a representation of both the skilled person and the inventor.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) today announced early publication of a classification system meant to speed the patent granting process for applicants to both Offices. The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system and finalized CPC definitions are now available in advance of the January 1, 2013, official launch. The CPC is a joint USPTO-EPO project aimed at developing a common classification system for technical documents in particular patent publications, which will be used by both offices in the patent granting process.
“This is an important milestone for the USPTO and EPO as we continue to eliminate duplication of work between the two Offices,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos.
It should be remembered that the USPTO and courts traditionally granted signal claims, and Nuijten was an innovative decision and arguably an outlier that deserved more challenge than it received. The pre-Nuitjen position and the desirability of allowing signal claims or claims to computer program products without specifying non-transitory media embodiment is recorded in a paper by Stephen G.Kunin et al., Patent Eligibility of Signal Claims, Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society, 87, No. 12, 907 – 1002 (December 2005). Many positive reasons for allowance of such claims are described in that paper, and they are traced back in history to O’Reilly v Morse.
The good news is that signal claims and broad claims to computer program products are obtainable in Europe. However, such claims are only grantable if the necessary language is present in the European application or the International application as filed, otherwise objection will arise under a.123(2) EPC. Further, the EPO rules on priority are strict, and if the necessary language is missing from the US provisional or utility application from which priority is claimed, then signal or unrestricted computer program product claims will not benefit from priority. It is at the time of US filing that the necessary language must be introduced, and in particular entry into the European regional phase is too late.