Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Dr Lansana GBERIE
13 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND INNOVATION: CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION AMONG IP OFFICES

280.   On behalf of co-sponsors of our submission IP/C/W/697, I am delighted to outline our proposal. This year, Friends of IP and Innovation members are planning to make IP and Innovation series focus on cross-border cooperation. As the first of this series, we thought it would be interesting and beneficial to discuss cooperation efforts among intellectual property offices or IP offices at this meeting. 281.   IP office in each country or region plays a significant role in ensuring an IP system suitable to effectively promote and protect IP rights in accordance with respective laws and regulations which comply with the TRIPS Agreement. Through these activities, IP offices encourage the creation of inventions and designs, protecting business credibility in trademarks, and contributing to the development of each region or country's economy. 282.   However, it should be also recognized that IP offices do not focus only on the activities in their own jurisdictions. IP offices may also seek to actively cooperate with each other, toward enhancing legal certainty and predictability, and in turn support cross-border trade and investment. By encouraging IP offices to improve their IP systems, and by fostering an environment that promotes certainty and predictability, the trade and investment environment in each region or country can be improved. As a consequence, such cooperation leads to regional economic development as a whole. For better discussion, we proposed several guiding questions as shown in our submission. 283.   These are just examples of discussion points. We hope that this topic will facilitate information sharing among Members, help to learn from each other, and support the development of policies in their countries/region that will promote future innovation. We wish many Members could contribute to the discussion by introducing your initiatives. As a kick-off of the discussion, please allow my colleagues to introduce the Japanese experience. 284.   Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our experiences and national policies regarding this agenda item. As presented in the concept paper, building an environment that enables the global protection of industrial property rights can help us to support enterprises in expanding their business outside of their home countries, while also promoting direct investment from abroad into different regions. In other words, cross-border cooperation among Intellectual Property (IP) Offices can help to facilitate industrial development. In addition, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) has been leading various types of cooperation to increase the operational efficiency of IP Offices. The JPO has also been actively assisting the human resource development of foreign IP Offices by providing training programmes. Today, I would like to introduce the initiatives of the JPO and provide an opportunity for other Members to understand the objectives and advantages in order to promote further cooperation in the future. 285.   Let me now outline the JPO's initiatives. The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is a programme based on agreement between IP Offices, which enables applicants to request accelerated examinations with simplified procedures in the Office of Second Filing (OSF) when their patent claims have been determined to be patentable in the Office of First Filing (OFF). Applicants can thus enjoy the benefits of shortened examination pendency and reduced response costs, as well as an increased grant rate. 286.   Meanwhile, IP offices can reduce the burden of patent examinations, and improve the quality thereof, by improving the availability of prior art searches and examination results of the First Office through the PPH. This international work-sharing programme will be of great help, particularly for IP Offices in emerging countries, in terms of managing their examination workload more efficiently by allocating additional personnel to non-PPH applications. Moreover, they can expect more patent applications from overseas applicants who prefer the ease of PPH procedures. We would like to emphasize that in all types of PPH, decisions about whether to grant patents remain under the control of the individual offices. 287.   The JPO came up with the idea of this work-sharing programme and launched the first pilot programme together with the USPTO in 2006. Since then, the JPO has been working to expand the PPH network and enhance the usability of this framework. A total of 54 IP offices are participating as of today. In addition, the JPO serves as the secretariat of the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH), a multinational framework launched in 2014. 288.   Other initiatives to utilize the examination results of the JPO include the PPH Plus and Cooperation for facilitating Patent Grants (CPG). Under these programmes, applicants who have patent rights at the JPO can apply to have their patent applications for the same invention examined with simplified and accelerated procedures at other offices. The JPO is currently implementing these frameworks with the IP offices in Brunei, Cambodia, and Lao People's Democratic Republic. 289.   These initiatives are established following mutual agreements of both parties and are the results of willingness of both offices to work together to improve application pendency and examination quality with respect to the examination systems of each country. 290.   The JPO has also been taking the lead in the field of IT systems. The JPO has advocated the establishment of a system to share dossier information, including the status of procedures, as well as examination and document-related data. We have been promoting this initiative named One Portal Dossier (OPD) among the IP5 offices, the IP office in Japan; the United States of America; Europe; China and Korea, Republic of. This system enables examiners to refer to the dossier information of member countries for the purpose of more efficient examinations. 291.   The OPD is also now available to applicants on the Internet. In addition, the JPO has contributed to the global expansion of this system through the world's first linkage of OPD with WIPO-CASE, WIPO's dossier information-sharing system, following joint technological development together with WIPO. 292.   In addition, the JPO was the first to initiate a framework to electronically exchange priority documents with other IP Offices. This framework significantly reduced the burden and cost of filing procedures for applicants, as well as the burden of document delivery procedures in the respective IP offices. Since the WIPO subsequently developed the Digital Access Service (DAS), the JPO has cooperated with WIPO to develop a DAS environment. The improvement of IT systems is the foundation for examination operations at all IP Offices, and we are eager to continue to promote international discussions on this matter. 293.   Along with developing frameworks and systems, the JPO is placing efforts into human resource development in cooperation with foreign IP offices. To this end, the JPO is facilitating direct discussions among examiners, as well as providing trainings for examiners in cooperation with other IP offices. This programme aims to promote mutual understanding and trust-building and improve the harmonization of examination practices among IP offices. Since 2000, the JPO carried out these programmes together with 34 IP offices and organizations, and in 2022 conducted online exchanges with 22 examiners from the IP offices in Europe, China, and the United Kingdom. They compared their examination methods and practices and also exchanged information on search systems, operation of examination guidelines and quality control. 294.   The JPO's team of international training instructors, which consists of examiners with extensive examination experiences, provides training programmes for patent examiners from emerging countries. The training programme is tailor-made to meet the needs of every Office, combining lectures and exercises. In 2022, approximately 230 examiners in emerging countries participated in the trainings. In addition, the JPO has various programs focused on developing human resources in emerging countries. Specifically, the JPO works with the WIPO to conduct high-level policy dialogues; fellowships and IP master's programmes; and to provide support for the development of IT infrastructure. 295.   In terms of IP utilization, for example, the JPO has been helping with brand-building in the African region. For the Taita Baskets project conducted in cooperation with the IP office in Kenya, we assisted women in rural areas to acquire a collective trademark for their traditional baskets, draft rules for the use of the collective trademark, and quality control of the basket products. Furthermore, the JPO offers training courses for government officers and IP experts in the private sector in emerging countries. Through these training courses, we aim to support human resources who play central roles in developing their respective IP systems, as well as build networks among those talents in emerging countries. 296.   Finally, the JPO dispatches its staff members to various regions in order to facilitate communication with other IP offices to promote the above-mentioned initiatives. Specifically, IP attachés are stationed in China, Brazil, Germany, India, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States to closely communicate and coordinate with the counterparts of the IP Offices in their respective regions. The above-mentioned initiatives of the JPO can help to build an environment where applicants in Japan and other countries are able to protect their IP rights more smoothly, as well as to streamline the operation of IP offices. Going forward, the JPO is determined to continue promoting these initiatives in cooperation with other IP offices. We sincerely hope that this presentation will be of some use to other Members, and we look forward to listening to other Members share their experiences.

63. The Council took note of the statements made.
61. The Chair said this item had been put on the agenda at the request of the delegations of Australia; Canada; the European Union; Hong Kong, China; Japan; Singapore; Switzerland; the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; the United Kingdom and the United States of America. These delegations had also submitted a communication on this topic, circulated in document in order to allow Members to prepare for today's discussion.
62. The representatives of Japan; the United States of America; Singapore; Switzerland; Australia; Chinese Taipei; the United Kingdom; Canada; Hong Kong, China; the European Union; Korea, Republic of; Peru; India; Bangladesh; South Africa; Canada and the World Intellectual Property Organization took the floor.
63. The Council took note of the statements made.
IP/C/M/107, IP/C/M/107/Add.1