Sino-Japanese treaty for 'patent highway'

Updated: 2011-10-26 07:55

By Zhang Zhao (China Daily)

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Under a new treaty signed by the patent administrations of China and Japan, companies in both countries will have much shorter waiting times for their patents to be processed.

The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot program scheduled to start next month and last a year aims to accelerate procedures through sharing information.

By reducing replication in examination work, the system will help patent offices streamline their work.

Traditional procedures for processing patent applications can last as long as two or three years for a Japanese company to be approved by China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). But when the new system takes effect, the wait is expected to shorten to only half a year.

According to the treaty, SIPO and the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) will exchange databases of English-version utility patent abstracts. China's database has been manually translated and checked for errors, but Japan will use machine translation because it does not currently have an English-language database.

"By building the highway, we want to provide convenience to Chinese companies when they are seeking patent protection in overseas markets," said Yang Xing, a senior official at SIPO's patent examination administration department.

"Also, the program is a way to avoid repetitive work among patent offices in different regions and improve efficiency and the quality of work," he added.

Yamaguchi Takashi, intellectual property manager for Japanese printer maker Epson's China company, told China Daily that the Sino-Japanese PPH program will have three major benefits.

"For the companies, the shortened examination period allows them to have their patents approved and enjoy the rights much earlier," he said. "For patent administrations in both countries, their burden of examination can be reduced.

"Also, during the exchange of patent examinations, the two administrations can work out a unified standard.

"As the project is promoted, we can expect better utilization of patents. And the patent management system will make a greater contribution to the industrial development in both countries," he added.

Japan signed PPH treaties with 16 organizations prior to the agreement with SIPO, including with the European Patent Office and patent authorities in the United States, South Korea, Canada and Mexico.

SIPO is considering establishing more PPH programs with other countries such as the US and South Korea, according to Yang.

In a meeting on Oct 18, the heads of SIPO and JPO shared views about patent examination automation and talent development, and planned a series of seminars and personnel training programs.

The annual meeting "has paved a way for patent exchanges for both sides, and provides more opportunities in cooperation," said SIPO Commissioner Tian Lipu.

"International patent cooperation should not be like a kind of compromise," said JPO Commissioner Yoshiyuki Iwai. "Rather, it requires us to seek a new path, one that can bring about mutual benefits."

An increasing number of Japanese companies are applying for patents in China. They filed more than 28,000 applications in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 11.8 percent over the same period in 2010. Nearly 20,000 of the applications were granted.

China Daily

Sino-Japanese treaty for 'patent highway'

(China Daily 10/26/2011 page17)