Harmonisation of patent practices and procedures

Since the launch of IP5 co-operation the five offices have been pursuing the improvement of the international patent landscape and within this remit have been working on a number of projects aimed at increasing efficiencies and streamlining patent prosecution for the benefit of applicants and offices alike.

The IP5 Patent Harmonisation Expert Panel (PHEP), a technical body of patent experts under the umbrella of the IP5, was established in 2012 with the aim to explore the potential for alignment of patent practices among the IP5. Recognising the importance of bringing on board the views of stakeholders, the PHEP has been working in close co-operation with industry representatives of the IP5 regions (“IP5 Industry”).

 Currently, when filing globally, an applicant has to prepare more or less a different patent application for each of the IP5 jurisdictions. The PHEP explores what can be done to bring IP5 offices’ systems closer together and to minimise the differences in patent application and granting procedures. The objective is to align practices to make it simpler for applicants to enter the patent granting system and harmonize procedures to reduce users’ and patent offices’ workload.

First PHEP work plan

As a first step, the PHEP has reviewed the following specific procedural areas:

The work of the PHEP in these procedural areas concluded in June 2019. Further details on the work of the PHEP

Second PHEP work plan

At their 2021 annual meeting, the IP5 Heads of Office agreed to a new work plan for alignment of IP5 practices focussing on the following topics:

  • Adoption of a global assignment
  • Harmonization of allowable features in drawings

The IP5 offices worked closely with IP5 Industry to identify these specific areas for potential alignment of procedures and to formulate the future work plan.