In late September 2016 the President of the European Patent Office (EPO), Mr Battistelli, and the Commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO), Mr Shen, met in France during the yearly meeting of the SIPO and EPO Heads of Offices.

In fact, every year EPO and SIPO representatives meet to address joint strategy goals as well as to review the results obtained thanks to the currently existing bilateral cooperation programme between the two Offices, which started more than 30 years ago, as well as to the socalled “IP5” cooperation, i.e. the cooperation programme involving the five largest Patent Offices, namely the forum bringing together the world’s five largest IP offices, i.e. the EPO, the SIPO, the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which together account for about 80% of all patent applications filed worldwide.

During the meeting, Mr. Battistelli reported on the progress made by the EPO in reducing pendency times for European patent application, and emphasized the important results obtained in 2016 thanks to the bilateral cooperation with the SIPO. These results included, among other things, the fast adoption of the cooperative patent classification (known as CPC), within the framework of which the SIPO has expanded its CPC classification to all fields of technology during this year. Furthermore, Mr. Battistelli noted that further common efforts have been made with a view to improving the scope of data available in the EPO’s Global Dossier service.

In the context of the meeting, the EPO President and the SIPO Commissioner signed a new work plan on bilateral cooperation for 2017. This work plans encompasses as many as seven projects, ranging from data exchange to classification to patent information to capacity building.

During the meeting, the EPO President stated that the strategic partnership put in place with the SIPO is highly beneficial to research-based European entities that wish to enter the Chinese market. Mr. Battistelli indicated that the new work plan for 2017 will allow to make further progress in a greater number of areas of cooperation between the two Offices, thereby enhancing the bilateral relations.

Indeed, cooperation between the EPO and the SIPO has also focused on staff training and exchanges, sharing data, as well as the creation of a new generation automated systems. This has allowed to increase access to the fast growing amount of Chinese patent data, thereby enabling greater access to the Chinese patent system for research-based European entities.

Surely, the fast development of the Chinese economy makes the strategic cooperation between the EPO and the SIPO very valuable, both for European and for Chinese entities. According to the EPO, more than 1,1 million patent applications were filed at the SIPO in 2015, while in 2016 the expected number of such filings at the SIPO is of about 1.3 million patent applications. Similarly, the patent applications from Chinese entities filed at the EPO are also growing in number. In fact, in 2015 more than 5,000 patent applications filed at the EPO came from Chinese entities, with a increase expected for 2016.

There can be no doubt that, thanks to the attention the EPO is paying to the Chinese economy and to the strengthening of its ties and cooperation with SIPO, Chinese applicants of European patent applications will be able to enjoy a particularly knowledgeable and effective service by the EPO.

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