WIPO rejigs patent application process

THE GENERAL Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has streamlined and simplified the international patent application filing system as operated under its Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Delegates agreed to integrate two key processes, namely an international search looking for existing patents that might throw doubt on the uniqueness of an invention, and an examination of the application itself, checking whether it is novel, involves an inventive step and can be exploited industrially.

Until now, these mandatory tasks have been carried out in different stages of international patent applications and because inventors have a 30-month deadline to file final applications with national patent offices, they have been doing so without asking for an international examination of their ideas. This has caused problems for undermanned developing country patent offices, for instance, and so WIPO wanted to speed up these preliminary steps to encourage their usage.

The assembly also app-roved a flat rate international filing fee, replacing the current basic fee and a charge payable for every patent designation made. It has also reduced fees for international applications filed electronically to SFr200 (£86).