November 21, 2019

The EPO strengthens international partnerships

The European Patent Office (EPO) has recently strengthened partnerships with intellectual property offices around the world through validation agreements, PCT framework cooperation, and the Reinforced Partnership programme. The latter is designed to establish and maintain long term cooperations with global IP offices, increasing their respective capacities and productivity through useful EPO tools and practices.

On November 4, 2019, the EPO and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Reinforced Partnership. The move comes after a 25-year history of cooperation between the two IP offices, and will further support innovation and provide a more efficient examination process. This is to be achieved through the expedited examination of patent applications which have been previously examined by the EPO, as well as strategic use of Mexican resources and a focus on national patents. It is hoped that this will lead to a faster patent granting process, as well as the reduction of the current backlog of applications.

On November 5, 2019, Cambodia’s Ministry of Industry and Handicraft and the EPO have also convened to engage in discussion regarding the continued validation agreement between the two offices. The agreement, which entered into force on March 1, 2018, allowing European patent holders to request validation of their patents in Cambodia, has proven to be a success for the economic growth of the country and for promoting global innovation. The EPO and Cambodia also signed a bilateral cooperation agreement which will be implemented in 2020. The agreement aims to enhance Cambodia’s Ministry of Industry and Handicraft ability to process patent applications and promote the IP field. The EPO aims to educate professionals within Cambodia to boost their knowledge on the significance of patent information for small businesses and universities.

The EPO also signed a validation agreement with Georgia on October 31, 2019. Once in force, it will allow patent applicants to validate granted patents in Georgia. Georgia marked the 45th country to have entered into a validation agreement with the EPO and it is a vital step for the growth of the country's intellectual property field.

The latest move by the EPO occurred on November 12, 2019, whereby they opted to enhance the bilateral cooperation with the intellectual property office of China (CNIPA) in relation to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This will allow patent applicants who file an international patent application in English with the CNIPA as the Receiving Office the choice to opt for the EPO as their International Searching Authority (ISA). This is a significant step towards the progression of the strategic cooperation between the EPO and China in the patent field. It is expected to be offered over the course of the next year and be implemented through an initial pilot programme.

Author: Danielle Carvey