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Securing Intellectual Property Protection Around The World

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee  in Geneva

All inventors—everywhere—deserve to have their inventions protected and promoted through intellectual property (IP) law everywhere. That is why the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) international IP focus—both in terms of policymaking and in IP processing—specifically advances us toward a world of global IP promotion and protection. And that is why USPTO’s senior leadership, led by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee, has spent the last week leading the United States’ delegation at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. Working with their colleagues from other major IP offices across the globe, the USPTO remains focused on Building a Better Patent System both at home and abroad.

One focus of Lee and her team in Geneva has been advancing the Global Dossier project, a signature initiative of the IP5. The IP5 includes the five largest patent offices in the world—ours, as well as Europe’s, China’s, Korea’s, and Japan’s. The USPTO hosted the 2013 IP5 meeting in Cupertino, California, where members agreed to create a one-stop-shop for applicants to file and manage a global portfolio of patent applications.

An effective Global Dossier program allows an inventor to more easily travel on the Patent Prosecution Highway, or PPH. This program ensures an inventor applying to two patent offices can benefit from those offices coordinating on the examination process. As those bilateral partnerships grew, however, it became clear that common rules of the road were needed across all PPH participating nations. Thus at the beginning of this year USPTO launched the Global PPH program, which ensures that all PPH-participating countries adhere to the same work-sharing standards. The Global PPH program now has 17 participating offices, with Singapore and Austria scheduled to join later this year.

Of course obtaining a patent faster and cheaper only matters if it is enforceable.

That’s why the IP Attaché program is so vital. These talented and hard-working individuals help IP owners navigate foreign markets around the world. USPTO placed its first attaché in China about eight years ago. There are now three there—in Beijing and Guangzhou—as well as Moscow; Bangkok; Rio de Janeiro; Kuwait City; New Delhi; and in Geneva. IP attachés promote strong local enforcement of IP protections and the adoption of strong rights and enforcement in local laws.

While in Geneva, Deputy Director Lee signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), one with IP Australia and the second with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). The IP Australia MoU ensures that an inventor applying for patents in Australia and the U.S. can choose under the Patent Cooperation Treaty to have Australia conduct the prior art search for that application in any area of technology. And the KIPO MoU introduces one of the five largest IP offices into the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system, launched by the USPTO and the European Patent Office (EPO) on January 1st of 2013. As more nations use the same classification system, patent examination becomes more consistent across national borders and enforcement becomes clearer and easier. The USPTO is hopeful other offices will follow KIPO’s lead.

A global IP system that reduces redundancies and improves patent quality and enforcement benefits inventors and consumers, driving advances in personal technology, health care, and other industries in ways that will transform our lives beyond our imagining.

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