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The power of IP5

Written by Corinne Day on 13 January 2010

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The world's five largest intellectual property offices have joined forces to streamline the patent application process when a patent application is filed in two or more of the IP5 offices, which otherwise leads to a duplication of work.

The IP5 are the European Patent Office (EPO), Japan Patent Office (JPO), Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Its aims have been summed up in a statement released by the IP5: "The elimination of unnecessary duplication of work among the offices, enhancement of patent examination efficiency and quality, and guarantee of the stability of patent rights." The IP5 also agreed to standardise information between the five offices.

Under the agreed plan, each patent office will be assigned a certain project:

- The EPO will compile a common documentation database designed to assist prior art searches, and devise a common approach for a hybrid classification, which will harmonise IP5 patent categories and facilitate reuse of work between the offices.

- Japan's Patent Office will develop protocols for a common application format and common access to search and examination results, raising efficiency in the filing and retrieval of patent documents.

- The Korean Intellectual Property Office aims to focus on promoting skills through a common training policy, and overcoming language barriers with the aid of mutual machine translation.

- China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) will work on common rules for examination practice and a common statistical parameter system for examination.

- Lastly, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will help the IP5 to adopt consistent search methods via a common approach to sharing and documenting search strategies, plus common search and examination support tools.

The IP5 offices account for 90% of all patent applications filed worldwide.

A website to provide news and information on the objectives of the IP5 has recently been launched www.fiveipoffices.org.

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