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Phl gets US Patent and Trademark Office confidence, joins world’s biggest IP offices

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The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has been recognized and designated as a competent International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority (ISA/IPEA) by the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO), making IPOPHL one out of a few IP offices that have gained the USPTO’s confidence.

“To gain the trust of one of the world’s top five IP offices and frontrunners in innovation is a groundbreaking feat for IPOPHL,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said at the signing of the designation on March 6 at the USPTO headquarters. 

“IPOPHL joins some of the biggest IP offices in being designated, namely the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), European Patent Office (EPO), Japan Patent Office (JPO), IP Australia (IPAU), IP Office of Singapore (IPOS) and Israel Patent Office (ILPO).”

“For years since elevating to ISA/IPEA status in 2017, IPOPHL has been streamlining and harmonizing its quality management policies to ensure the accuracy, comprehensiveness and timeliness of our search and examination reports. Today, we reap the rewards of that hard work with, welcomingly, more work which we are ready to take on as we expect more countries to designate IPOPHL and more inventors to harness IPOPHL’s ISA/IPEA services,” he added.

It may be recalled that in 2017 WIPO contracting states unanimously endorsed IPOPHL to be designated as an ISA/IPEA. With this, IPOPHL is given the authority to conduct search and preliminary examination of applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). IPOPHL commenced its operation as ISA/IPEA in May 2019, serving as the competent international authority for applicants in the Philippines. For local inventors, having an ISA/IPEA closer to home meant enjoying easier and faster coordination. 

As an ISA/IPEA, IPOPHL issues international search reports that identify the patent documents and technical literature as relevant prior art, and draws up a written opinion that details how these prior art may affect an invention’s patentability. When applicants amend their patent application in light of the findings in the written opinion, they are then allowed to request an international preliminary examination as an additional patentability analysis.

ISA/IPEA services, especially when delivered on time, could help streamline patent applications when they enter the national phase as the work of national IP offices are significantly reduced to focus on the prior art in the national context. 

In its latest PCT Yearly Review, WIPO shows that  IPOPHL maintains efficiency in producing international search reports, with timeliness ratings of 80% for international search reports transmitted within three months from request and 100% for international search reports transmitted within the nine-months deadline. These rates are above those of other ISA/IPEA offices.

“The capability to draw up these reports in a timely manner shows our access to a whole array of robust databases and literature and, most importantly, the skills of our patent examiners to conduct quality examinations at a relatively faster turnaround time,” Barba said.

The USPTO designation lasts for eight years and is subject for renewal depending on IPOPHL’s compliance with operating terms.

IPOPHL is one out of only 24 operating ISA/IPEAs worldwide and is second in the ASEAN region to function as such.

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