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Archived updates for Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Developed Countries Announce Preliminary Consensus on Patent Harmonization

On April 19 and 20, patent law experts from the industrialized nations met at the European Patent Office headquarters in Munich, Germany, to begin discussions on the elements of the Trilateral "first package" concerning substantive patent law harmonization: definition of prior art, grace period, novelty and non-obviousness. The meeting was the first of the Working Group of Experts, which was established at the February 2005 "Exploratory" Meeting Concerning the Future of Substantive Patent Law Harmonization hosted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The following statement was adopted by the Working Group at the conclusion of the meeting:

The Working Group of Experts of industrialised nations considering the substantive issues of the first package, set up by the meeting in February 2005 in Washington, met on 19 and 20 April 2005 in Munich.The meeting was attended by delegations from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and the United States of America, as well as Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark,
Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the European Commission and the European Patent Office. The meeting was chaired by Mr Dave Herald, Deputy Commissioner of IPAustralia.

The Working Group conducted discussions in an open and constructive manner on the provisions concerning novelty, inventive step, grace period and prior art drafted in the context of a first-to-file system. In particular, a preliminary consensus within the experts' Working Group was achieved for many provisions of the first package, such as Articles 8(1) and 12(2) as well as Rules 8, 9(1)(b), 9(2), 14, and 15(1) to (3) of the draft SPLT as amended by the Group.

Further work is required inter alia regarding the treatment of conflicting applications and its ramifications and the features of a possible grace period as well as a number of particular issues of detail, where it is hoped that consensus can be achieved.The delegations reaffirmed their support for the harmonisation process and expressed the view that work on the first package, as well as the issues from the Working Group on IP and development, should resume within WIPO at the earliest appropriate moment. The results of this meeting will be transmitted to the Plenary meeting which will take place in Munich on 30 and 31 May 2005.

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