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Patent information - promoting innovation through co-operation Richard Flammer Principal Director, Patent Information and European Co-operation 17 September.

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Presentation on theme: "Patent information - promoting innovation through co-operation Richard Flammer Principal Director, Patent Information and European Co-operation 17 September."— Presentation transcript:

1 Patent information - promoting innovation through co-operation Richard Flammer Principal Director, Patent Information and European Co-operation 17 September 2010

2 Main messages today 1.Patent information is fundamental to the patent system 2.Patents and patent information are all about stimulating innovation 3.Patents offices must use all means at their disposal to ensure effective use of patent information 4.Disclosure is a basic feature of the patent system and increasingly in the spotlight.

3 Patent information - fundamental to the system Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Article 12(1): "Each country of the Union undertakes to establish a special industrial property service and a central office for the communication to the public of patents, utility models, industrial designs, and trademarks." Etymology of the word "patent" 1 " Anglo-Norman and Middle French patent (c1260 in Anglo- Norman; in Middle French) and its etymon classical Latin patent-, pat[e]ns open, lying open, unobstructed, wide, broad, readily accessible, clear, obvious, use as adjective of present participle of pat[e]re to be open " 1. Source: Oxford English Dictionary online (www.oed.com)

4 Patent information - fundamental to the system Conclusion: the foundation of today's patent law (Paris Convention) AND the meaning of the word "patent" itself... are all about getting information on new inventions into the public domain

5 Patents stimulating innovation? Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, empowers the United States Congress: to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. ("Promote the progress of science..." = "Stimulate innovation...")

6 Patents stimulating innovation? How can patents stimulate innovation? by allowing companies to monitor competitors' activities? by providing the information for deciding freedom to act? by providing the information for deciding patentability? by providing inspiration for technologists to innovate?

7 Patents stimulating innovation? Patents, at their best, can help industry understand what already exists and build on it; reduce the duplication of others' R&D work and avoid infringement of others' rights.

8 EPO - the guardian of worldwide patent information? A long tradition: 1910 Netherlands Patent Act (strict patentability criteria, pre-exam. search need for good documentation) 1947 IIB founded in The Hague (members: FR, BE, NL and LU) to establish a central pre-examination search (centralised documentation necessary) 1978 EPO integrates IIB and takes over the documentation collection 1990s EPO converts entire collection to electronic format (today, more than 60 million documents) 1991 EPO integrates INPADOC and takes over the Patent Family and Legal Status databases 1998 launched

9 EPO - the guardian of worldwide patent information? European system is based on quality, which starts with a good search need for good databases Inherited excellent documentation from IIB Committed to continuing the work started by INPADOC Patent family / legal status data Conclusion The EPO is naturally the world's leading repository of patent data.

10 EPO Patent Information Policy Offering EPO data to the public cost to EPO is low (it has the data anyway) patent information reaches many people places patent information where it can stimulate innovation

11 EPO Patent Information Policy Three categories of patent information EPO's own data (EP patent documents, Register, etc) data collected for EPO searches (worldwide prior art documentation) data collected for public ("INPADOC", bibliographic, family, legal status)

12 EPO Patent Information Policy Co-operation the key to success? For collecting data: worldwide co-operation (currently 81 countries' data in the EPO databases!) For disseminating patent information 38 member states with: – local knowledge – local language skills – geographical proximity to industry

13 EPO Patent Information Policy Creating the framework for achieving the best results marginal cost pricing policy for data and search tools focus on co-operation across the member states PATLIB network (> 300 members) a strategy for helping PATLIBs to be effective (pilot project, national action plans, IP pre-diagnosis)

14 Participating member states (13) –AT, BE, BG, CZ, FI, HU, IT, LT, MT, RO, SK, SI, TR Model A service created by INPI France Scope Introduce and enhance the understanding of industrial property in SMEs by using national offices' IP expertise IP pre-diagnosis - Pilot ( )

15 IP pre-diagnosis service - the provision of: an objective and qualified analysis of the state and development prospects of the SME regarding its IP needs an understanding of the competitive advantages which can be created by IP a clear picture of all the IP players and costs involved a clear identification of available skills recommendations and courses for action IP pre-diagnosis - Pilot ( )

16 Participating member states CZ, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, IT, LV, PL, RO, SK, TR Objective: –Enable PATLIB centres to offer patent related innovation support centres mainly in the pre-filing and commercialisation phase of inventions –Sustainability of the services Pilot project to reorient patent information centres ( )

17 Implementation procedure: –pilot project with a limited number of centres to test the concept –inclusion in the national action plans –after successful completion -> larger scale implementation possibly supported by the European Commission Pilot project to reorient patent information centres ( )

18 Project components: Tools for –supporting searchers (eg shared browsing) –analysing and visualising search results –developing patent strategies and managing a patent portfolio –evaluating the economic potential of inventions Modular training programme and e-learning tools Coaching by staff from centres that already offer sophisticated innovation support services Pilot project to reorient patent information centres

19 Europe a multi-lingual culture Using patent information well means consulting documents in several languages EPO committed to helping users access and understand all documents Hence the EPO machine translation programme Understanding patent documents - machine translation

20 EPO Machine Translation (MT) programme: a support to local innovation EPO European Machine Translation Programme launched in 2004 Objective: provide an automated translation service of a sufficient quality to make the technical content of a patent document understandable to a technically qualified person Technical approach used: rule-based engine, hierarchical technical dictionaries built with IPC- based patent terminology

21 EPO Machine Translation (MT) programme: a support to local innovation Languages available today (automatic translation from/into English): German, Spanish, Italian, French - implemented in 2008 and Portuguese - foreseen in Q EPO MT services are available: –to the public via (abstract, descriptions and claims) –to the EPO examiners via SEA Viewer from Epoque

22 The future of MT at the EPO: European language technology services for patents A new programme to enhance the EPO MT services Start: end 2011 (Administrative Council approval pending) Duration: 4 years Scope: delivery of language technology services for patents from and into English (later French and German) for all languages of the EPC contracting states

23 Result display - View the full text of the patent document And translate it

24 Geographical origin of users who use the machine-translation feature

25 The future of MT at the EPO: European language technology services for patents Objectives: support the dissemination of patent information, also in relation to EU patent; support the patent examination procedure High translation quality has priority (independent from technical solution)

26 We already have: a worldwide (and growing) data pool technology to access it machine-translation to understand it a network to reach those who need it But... Understanding patent documents - a remaining challenge

27 Are patents really suitable as documents for stimulating innovation? do they allow companies to monitor competitors' activities? - YES do they provide the information for deciding freedom to act? - YES do they provide the information for deciding patentability? - YES do they provide inspiration for technologists to innovate? - PROBABLY NOT Understanding patent documents - a remaining challenge

28 Only 1.5% of US patents are ever cited in scientific literature (Source: Fromer 1 ) "pervasive use of ambiguous or opaque language" - Seymore 2 "an incentive to obfuscate information" - Fromer "current regulations do not systematically generate good titles" - Fromer Understanding patent documents - a remaining challenge 1. Jeanne C. Fromer, Patent Disclosure, Iowa Law Review, Vol. 94, p. 539, 2009 Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No Sean B. Seymore, The Teaching Function of Patents, Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 85, No. 2, pp , 2010, Washington & Lee Legal Studies Paper No

29 Dual function of a patent document a legal instrument a description of a new piece of technology On-stage debate on the quality of patent documents and how they describe new technology EPO Patent Information Conference (co-organised by EPO and Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property) October 2010, Lausanne Understanding patent documents - a remaining challenge

30 Thank you Richard Flammer Principal Director Patent Information and European Co-operation General enquiries


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