Journal Article

The Trilateral cooperation

Philip W. Grubb

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 2, issue 6, pages 397-401
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online April 2007 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI:
The Trilateral cooperation

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Legal context

The relatively informal agreements setting up the Trilateral Cooperation (TC) among the world's three most important patent offices are contrasted with formal multinational treaties such as the Patent Law Treaty and the abortive Substantive Patent Law Treaty.

Key points

After its inception in 1983, the TC concentrated initially on developing and implementing standards for electronic storage and retrieval of prior art documents, and facilitation of searching. This was later extended to electronic sharing of priority documents and to standardization and searching of DNA sequence databases. More recently emphasis has been placed on harmonization of searching and examination procedures, and working groups have compared the approaches of the Trilateral Offices (TOs) to the patentability of claims in areas of new technology. Encouragingly, the results are usually the same, although the specific objections raised may differ. The ultimate goal is to reach a situation in which a claim allowed by one TO would be accepted by the others without further examination.

Practical significance

The TC has already facilitated search and examination, leading to lower costs and shorter pendency times than would otherwise be the case. Further progress depends on harmonization of substantive patent law, which in turn depends on the willingness of the USA to accept a first-to-file system.

Keywords: Although the reform of patent law at an international level falls within the responsibility of the World Intellectual Property Organization, much of the initiative leading towards the more efficient functioning of Patent Offices at national and regional levels comes from the tripartite cooperation between the patent-granting authorities of the USA, Japan, and Europe.; The great value of this cooperation lies in its practical applications, in areas as vital to the operation of the patent system as data storage and the avoidance of expensive duplication of examination work by a multiplicity of national offices.; In this article the tripartite cooperation is traced from its earliest origins to its current activities, with reference to the political sensitivities and economic realities to which any mechanism for the grant of patents must inevitably be subject.

Journal Article.  3126 words. 

Subjects: Intellectual Property Law

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