The European Patent Office (EPO) is the executive arm of the European Patent Organisation, an international organisation with 38 member states, which include all 27 EU member states. The aim is to promote and protect innovation and to support trade and economic growth.
The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) supports the EPO’s endeavours to reduce differences in procedures in the interest of applicants through the ambitious convergence programmes with the member states. The agreed practices of a harmonised procedure can be implemented voluntarily.
The working groups of the convergence programme include experts of the DPMA.
- Designation of inventor:
The aim is to develop a recommendation for a common practice on the designation of the inventor and the publication of inventor data (completed in December 2020).
- Unity of invention:
The aim is to harmonise the practical procedure for the examination of unity of invention by developing minimum reasoning (completed in December 2020).
- Accordance of priority date:
The aim is to reduce differences in the accordance of a priority date.
- Re-establishment of rights:
The aim is to harmonise the practice on the examination of a request for re-establishment of rights.
Further information on our cooperation with the EPO is available on our website.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is responsible for the registration and management of EU trade marks and Community designs. EU trade marks and Community designs confer an IP right consistently valid in all member states of the European Union on their holders.
We work with EUIPO and the other national intellectual property offices of the EU member states to provide harmonised registration procedures for trade marks and designs in Europe. In this context, too, working groups concerning convergence projects that work towards harmonising the examination practices of all trade mark offices in the European Union include experts of the DPMA. The common practice on new trade mark forms – examination of formal requirements and grounds for refusal – has been published recently. Previous convergence projects in the past years addressed issues such as the use of a trade mark in a form differing from the one registered and criteria for the evaluation of the disclosure of designs on the Internet. Experts of the DPMA are also involved in evaluating the current convergence projects and in planning new convergence projects within the framework of a convergence analysis.
Furthermore, we take part in certain search and classification tools (including TMClass, the harmonised classification database for goods and services, and the search tools for trade marks, TMview, and designs, DesignView).
European cooperation also focuses particularly on providing support to small and medium-sized enterprises in using intellectual property effectively; in this context, we are involved in different projects.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for information and cooperation in the field of intellectual property. It is a specialised agency of the United Nations with 193 member states and its headquarters in Geneva.
Since 2013, the DPMA has held annual WIPO’s roving seminars in cooperation with WIPO. In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the seminar was postponed to February 2021. The WIPO’s roving seminar informs IP experts about services and initiatives of WIPO.
Working groups of WIPO in which experts of the DPMA work include, for example:
- PCT Working Group
- Standing Committee on the Law of Patents
- Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications
- Working Group on the Legal Development of the Madrid System
- Working Group on the Legal Development of the Hague System
Further information on our cooperation with WIPO is available on our website.
The DPMA works closely not only with the most important international organisations in the field of intellectual property, such as WIPO, the EPO and EUIPO, but also with national offices. The aim is to protect and strengthen the global IP systems. The content and measures of cooperation are governed by bilateral agreements, known as Memoranda of Understanding (MoU). For example, agreements have been entered into with the most important Asian offices, such as the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS). Furthermore, an agreement exists with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The bilateral relations we maintain focus on providing training to staff, offering exchange programmes for patent examiners and exchanging patent data.
By following best practices, the DPMA has maintained the exchange of patent examiners with the large national patent offices, such as the CNIPA, the JPO, KIPO and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) for almost 20 years. An essential component of these programmes are mutual visits to discuss search strategies, the use of search systems and the optimisation of the procedures.
In the digital world, the access to information and the speed of transactions are key elements to successful working. On the basis of bilateral data exchange agreements with the large offices, it is ensured that data and documents can quickly be provided to the relevant patent office. The partner offices are also entitled to use the full text documents for machine translation. Subsequently, the documents are searchable as translated full texts in the relevant national search systems. This improves the quality of the search and the entire examination procedure.
The Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) programme allows patent applicants to file a request for an accelerated examination when a GPPH partner office considers at least one patent claim patentable. On the basis of the work results of the partner office, the DPMA then conducts an independent search. In addition to accelerated processing, applicants benefit from the fact that the patent offices can share their respective work results and that the prior art search may even be extended.
In addition to the DPMA, another 26 patent authorities worldwide take part in the GPPH.
Since 2012, the DPMA has maintained a bilateral PPH project with the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), which does not participate in the GPPH. Patent applicants can request an accelerated examination of their application with the DPMA and the CNIPA. This option still exists.
Further information on the accelerated application procedure under the GPPH programme is available on our website.