In June, the Group B+ “Sub-Group on Patent Harmonisation” published a paper setting out a high level agreement on patent harmonisation. The sub-group was established last year to assist the Chair of Group B+ (IPO Chief Executive John Alty) to make progress on this important topic, and includes representatives from major patenting jurisdictions in Asia, Europe and North America.
The paper is a big step forward for the process of patent harmonisation which could offer big benefits to users of the patent system, offering global improvements and making it easier for businesses to operate internationally. It sets out objectives and principles which sub-group members agree should underpin patent harmonisation in a number of key areas. Specifically the paper sets out views on the characteristics which the grace period should have if introduced - a first for a document of its kind. Similarly it sets out a general agreement on how the publication regime should work, as well as principles relating to treatment of conflicting applications, prior user rights and prior art. The aim of the paper is to galvanise thinking and signpost ways forward in each of these complex areas.
The Chair’s note which accompanies the paper sets out some specific issues for comment, inviting responses from any interested parties by email to the Group B+ Secretariat by 24 July 2015.