The Five IP Offices (IP5) is the name given to a forum of the five largest intellectual property offices in the world that is being set up to improve the efficiency of the examination process for patents worldwide. The members of IP5 are:
The IP5 Offices account for 90% of all patent applications filed worldwide and for 93% of all work carried out under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
The vision of the IP5 Offices is global co-operation, which has been defined as "the elimination of unnecessary duplication of work among the IP5 Offices, the enhancement of patent examination efficiency and quality and guarantee of the stability of patent right". The objective is to address the ever-increasing backlog at the world's five biggest intellectual property offices. As the world sees economic barriers between nations fade away, innovators want their intellectual creations protected concurrently in multiple major markets. Hence, applications for the same technology are filed at more than one patent office. The solution to the backlog problem is to reduce, to the maximum extent possible, the duplication of work which takes place at each office for a family of patent applications.
There are two pre-requisites for work sharing, both of which are supported by the PCT: (1) the results on patentability from the national procedure must be available on time and (2) the work done needs to conform to a common approach to quality in the patent granting process.
By filing a single "international" patent application under the PCT, protection for an invention can be sought simultaneously in each of a large number of countries (147 in May 2013). The PCT has undergone reform in recent years driven by the offices of the Trilateral co-operation (EPO, JPO and USPTO) and has proved itself to be a highly successful international treaty.
The Trilateral Offices have taken an active role in improving the efficiency of the PCT - this process of reform will continue to serve the needs of the IP5. The Common Application Format (CAF) and the Common Hybrid Classification are two examples where PCT-related developments initiated by the Trilateral co-operation now fall under the umbrella of the Foundation Projects.