As the economy becomes ever-more globalized, the need for a more uniform and integrated international IP system continues to grow. This is particularly true for patent law and other legalities dealing with intellectual property, as multinational entities look to mitigate IP risks when developing and selling new technology in overseas markets.
Work towards meeting this need has been ongoing since 2007 when the “IP5” held its first meeting to establish a coordinated and cooperative effort to lower the legal barriers for new technologies. As you might have guessed, it includes the patent offices of five developed economies that aim to balance the freedom of commercial activity with protection for home-grown innovations.
The IP5 includes the EU, Japan, Korea, China, and the United States. Each of these countries has an interest in fostering economic activity with robust and impartial IP legal regimes. These offices handle 80% of the world’s IP claims, with an increasing number of those being international patents. The most recently available data from the USPTO underscores this trend, with the total number of patent applications submitted with “international” origin more than one-third higher than total domestic submission over the same period.
The core mission of the IP5 is to “work closely to improve efficacy and work to address the backlog of applications worldwide.” While the IP5 is separate and distinct from the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization, it works closely with them to “harmonize international IP laws” while facilitating the protection and transfer of intellectual property across international borders.
Additionally, the IP5 closely monitors and manages some aspects of alternate modes of international patent file and approval, including the 1970 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) of which nearly all the world’s nations are members of; the EPO’s own patent validation process; and a key 2014 IP5 initiative, the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH). The PPH includes the patent offices of all IP5 members, as well as those of additional nations.
Ongoing IP5 Initiatives
In recent news, the IP5 returned to meeting in June 2021 to renew commitments to several new and ongoing initiatives. Those include:
- Developing a roadmap to fostering a legal environment more friendly to AI and emerging technologies among member countries.
- Making patent prosecution (the submission and approval process) more efficient, cost-effective, and fair.
- Expanding on 2018’s Collaborative Search and Examination Project (CS&E) by continuing to explore ways to balance workload processing across member IP offices and to consider pilot program participants outside of IP5 members.
- Continuing a project to standardize application drawing and specification features such as size, color, and other relevant characteristics.
The Latest IP5 Meeting
The IP5 endorsed and helped coordinate a meeting between head offices and industry groups such as: The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA); BusinessEurope (BE); the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO); the Japan Intellectual Property Association (JIPA); the Korea Intellectual Property Association (KINPA); and the Patent Protection Association of China (PPAC). These IP5 industry associations support each member’s initiatives and confirm that they will continue to engage with their own industries, national IP offices, and each other.
In October 2021, the IP5 spearheaded an international roadmap for patents involving new emerging technologies and artificial intelligence (NET/AI) “outlining the possible projects and initiatives which would benefit most from joint IP5 responses.” The goals are to deal with the issues of legality, volume, utilization, and classification of patents relating to these technologies.