36th Trilateral Heads of Office meeting in Japan

Statement by the chair, Commissioner Munakata, JPO

2 March 2018

The Heads of the Trilateral Offices (EPO, JPO and USPTO) held their annual meeting in Hakone, Japan this week. The 36th annual Trilateral conference was preceded by a meeting between the offices and industry associations from the three regions. Topics discussed included substantive patent law harmonisation, examination practices of computer related inventions, the 4th Industrial Revolution and new technologies, and implications of essentiality checks on standard essential patents.

In view of new developments and new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the JPO and the EPO presented an interim report on their comparative study of examination practices of computer implemented inventions.

The Trilateral Offices also agreed to continue discussing at the level of the IP5 issues relating to standard essential patents.

Regarding substantive patent law harmonisation, the Trilateral Industry representatives reported on the progress of their work on a proposal for a package of internationally harmonised norms (on the grace period, conflicting applications, the definition of prior art and prior user rights), indicating they aim to arrive at a successful conclusion by late 2018.