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 March 28, Apple Inc. appeared in court in Shanghai to defend charges that Siri, its voice-recognition, personal-assistant software, allegedly infringes a Chinese patent. The plaintiff and owner of the patent, Zhizhen Internet Technology Co., claims its version of the software has over 100 million users in China and is requesting the court to ban all manufacturing or sales of Apple’s product in China.
This was not the first time Apple faced patent infringement claims in China. Last summer a Taiwanese man sued the company in China for alleged infringement relating to its Facetime technology; in 2010 a Shenzhen company threatened to sue concerning iPad design; in 2008 Apple was sued for the iPod; and in 2012, a Hong Kong company launched GooPhone I5, an android-based replica of the iPhone 5, reportedly based on leaked photos of the iPhone. GooPhone claimed to have patented the design and threatened to sue Apple if it dared to sell the genuine article in China.
Nor is Apple alone. French company, Schneider Electric lost a $48 million patent infringement verdict in China and Samsung lost one for $7.4 million. Sony, Phillips, Canon and Dell have all had their battles and GooPhone sells knockoffs of other smartphones in China with apparent impunity. Of course it’s possible in some cases the Chinese technology may be first and the Chinese patent legitimate. However, foreign companies face a growing risk that Chinese entities may unscrupulously patent foreign technology in China and demand a toll to do business there. Not only that, but in coming years companies will increasingly face challenges worldwide from the growing landslide of patents coming out of China.
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.
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.”
June 6, 2012 — At EPO’s invitation, the Heads of the world’s five largest intellectual property offices (“IP5″) met in Europe today to take stock of the progress achieved since the launch of the IP5 cooperation in 2007 and explore ways of further optimising their joint efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of the examination process for patents worldwide. These Offices handle, together, nearly 90% of the world’s patent applications.
The IP5 Heads of Office also met with industry representatives from their respective regions. At this high-level meeting, – the first of its kind -, they sought input from users on their needs concerning the orientation of the IP5 cooperation. Responding to the views put forward by industry, the five Heads expressed their common conviction that the focus of future IP5 initiatives should be even more user-directed.
A new report published by WIPO today shows that intellectual property filings worldwide rebounded strongly in 2010 after a considerable decline in 2009. In fact, the recovery in IP filings was stronger than the overall economic recovery. This is probably to have been expected given that patent filings in particular are a leading indicator of the introduction of new technologies into the marketplace. The question now is whether the patent systems of the world can actually process these increased patent filings in a releavant time frame so that entrepreneurs and small businesses, who are the engine of growth, can be the catalyst pushing toward economic recovery.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), patent and trademark filings grew by 7.2% and 11.8% respectively in 2010 compared to growth of 5.1% in the global gross domestic product (GDP). Not surprisingly China and the United States accounted for the greatest share of the increased filings. With China you have a growing economy in a country with over 1.3 billion people. With the United States you have the largest economy in the world and the rights granted are undoubtedly very strong given the fact that, for the most part, the U.S. judiciary is not anti-patent. Not to be outdone, however, in Europe the growth of IP filings in France, Germany and the UK also far exceeded the GDP growth rate of these three European economies in 2010.
Earlier today the United States Patent and Trademark Office announced what they are referring to as “landmark Patent Prosecution Highway Pilots” with China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the USPTO and SIPO Commissioner Tian Lipu announced the start of Paris Route and PCT Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programs beginning on December 1, 2011. Meanwhile, the USPTO, in a separate press release, also announced the launching of a new pilot project for the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) with the Icelandic Patent Office (IPO).
As with other PPH pilot programs, these new SIPO and IPO agreements will permit each office to benefit from work previously done by the other office. The work-sharing benefits of the Patent Prosecution Highway are what every Patent Office around the world is after given the global demand for patents only continues to rise. Work-sharing arrangements of one kind or another are virtually required given the reality that patents are more valuable than ever, more desirable than ever and due to legal requirements and litigation applications need to be far more detailed than even just 10 years ago. Indeed, there is really no comparison to the level of disclose found in patent applications today compared with detail found in patent applications a generation ago.
Deputy Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Teresa Stanek Rea and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) Commissioner Tian Lipu, signed a Joint Statement of Intent on November 8, 2011, to launch two new Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programs on December 1, 2011.These landmark patent worksharing initiatives represent a major achievement in the growing bilateral cooperation between the two patent offices. These pilot programs will apply to qualifying patent applications filed under both the Paris Convention (“Paris Route”) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Certainly those of us involved with international IP protection have heard the horror stories about how IP protection in China is a waste of money, effort, time, etc. or how such a phrase may even seem to be an oxymoron. Honestly, when a study comes out showing that most government computers are running pirated Windows® software then the headlines are easy, and the politicians start pounding their fists to make political capital while the sun shines.
And certainly one can not pretend that IP in China is issue-free. However, as one who has been working in Asia for over a decade on IP matters, I tell you it is getting better.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office today announced two news items relative to its efforts to expand international work sharing arrangements. First, On May 19, 2010, USPTO Director David Kappos and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) Commissioner Tian Lipu signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on comprehensive bilateral cooperation on patents. The signing took place during a signing ceremony held at the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Virginia. Second, in a separate and seemingly unrelated item, the USPTO also announced today that it would eliminate the fee for the petition to participate in Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programs. The elimination of the PPH petition fee is expected to encourage greater PPH participation by patent applicants. The good news is that yet more is being done to address the backlog and pendency. But I am still hoping for a plan aimed straight at independent inventors and start-up businesses here in the U.S.