Initially the main focus of this exchange program was put on the exploration of each others search methods, tools, classification schemes and documentation methods.
Gradually this changed towards making better use of each other work results and working methods, this being possible due to the continuous building of trust and understanding between the JPO and the EPO.
Today, the EPO, JPO and USPTO agree to engage in a limited examiner exchange in an effort to gain a greater appreciation of a search prepared by another Office in the context of work sharing (using the search prepared by the Office of first filing for examination purposes in the Offices of subsequent filings).
The goal of this exchange program is to share information among the Trilateral Offices to help characterize the "gap" among the searches of the EPO/JPO/USPTO. "Gap" for the purpose of this exchange includes differences in searching among the Trilateral Offices and the resulting impact these differences have in the ability to rely on each other's searches.
The close interaction between examiners working in the same technical areas in different Offices enhances the understanding of working methods and the building of mutual trust.
Sharing the details of how each Office accomplishes a search will enable the identification of gaps so as to:
- improve search techniques in general,
- reduce or minimize the need for further searching when sharing searches among the EPO/JPO/USPTO, and enhance the value of the USPTO's searches to the EPO/JPO.