Friday, 4 March 2011

Now we can (not quite) all tango to the tune of PROSUR

Cooperation leads to better quality for patents too
A media release from the World Intellectual Property Organization yesterday, "WIPO to Support South American Countries in Regional Collaborative Project" (here), makes interesting reading -- if not exactly surprising news.  Something like "WIPO says 'no' to regional collaborative project" would certainly catch more attention, but it's our duty to make sure that the good news travels, so here it is:
"WIPO has responded positively to a request by a group of nine South American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay – to assist in their efforts to improve services to local and international users of the IP system, initially through sharing patent examination results and other intellectual property (IP) resources.

The request came in a letter to WIPO Director General Francis Gurry from the President of Argentina’s industrial property office (INPI-Argentina), Mr. Mario Aramburu, who was writing on behalf of the nine countries. The letter informs Mr. Gurry that these nine countries have agreed on a regional project “to develop a common platform that allows the integration, exchange of information and system compatibility for the nine participating countries.” The project is referred to as PROSUR (regional cooperation system on IP). The letter further requests WIPO’s involvement, as a “specialized cooperating agency of the project…to develop the general support for the PROSUR process.”

Mindful of the general concerns about patent quality and efficiency of the global patent system, WIPO has developed a technology platform called “WIPO CASE” which allows for the sharing of confidential search and examination information between IP offices and is already being used or evaluated by other regional groupings.

“WIPO CASE offers a platform for patent offices to share information and reports relating to patent search and examination. The platform should thus contribute to enhancing the quality and efficiency of search and examination.” said Mr. Gurry while welcoming the collaborative effort by these nine South American countries.

WIPO will assist PROSUR members in this regional integration project by developing the necessary infrastructure, including use of the WIPO CASE platform, training of patent examiners and other IP professionals as well in strengthening ongoing horizontal cooperation efforts to support PROSUR.  Mr. Aramburu said “this is a first step towards the integration of IP offices in the region.”
This writer is saddened at the omission from this list of countries of some jurisdictions which would greatly benefit from this initiative and hopes that they will not be left behind, for political or other reasons, when the fruits of progress ripen on the tree of cooperation.

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