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Published by IFIA
the International Federation of
Inventors' Associations
Budapest, Hungary


First published   March 1, 2002
Last Update May 16, 2006


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© A Degtyarev & A Mikhailusev (ex-USSR) 



In a circular dated December 14, 2001, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) invited interested governments, organizations and users to submit comments on his document (A/36/14) entitled "Agenda for the Development of the International Patent System", hearafter called "WIPO Patent Agenda". Later WIPO established a special Website at http://patentagenda.wipo.int with the objective to promote discussion of the issues (31 questions in the Annex to the WIPO document) as widely as possible. In addition, WIPO convened a Conference on the International Patent System (Geneva, March 25 to 27, 2002).

This special IFIA Webpage will highlight the voice of the inventors community. It starts with the comments submitted by IFIA on February 15, 2002. This is followed by extracts of the other comments posted on the special WIPO Webpage which refer to the three points highlighted in the IFIA comments. At a later stage, we shall refer to the lectures and discussions which will take place at the WIPO Conference.

Dr. Farag Moussa, President of IFIA
Geneva, March 1, 2002

IFIA written comments on some points of the WIPO Patent Agenda

Extracts from other written comments
on the WIPO Patent Agenda (by Patent Offices and NGOs) related, directly or indirectly, to the three points highlighted in the IFIA comments:
World Patent
Reduction of Costs
Licensing and commercialization of inventions

IFIA Written Comments on Some Points of the WIPO Patent Agenda
The following text was:
- Submitted to WIPO on February 15, 2002, and posted on WIPO special Website mentioned above.
- Reproduced by Cafezine - the Online Intellectual Property Magazine of the well known USA Website

  PatentCafe, in its issue of March 6, 2002.
- Connected to the website of the Association of Hungarian Inventors (MAFE)

IFIA is the official voice of inventors worldwide. It groups inventor associations and inventors from 109 countries and from all continents.

Independent inventors ("natural persons" as they are often called in the patent system) represent an important sector of the local inventive community in every country in the world. In 1998 the number of patents filed by independent inventors who are residents of a country, compared to the total number of patents filed by residents, speak for themselves. See the special webpage of IFIA website which is based on official statistics received by IFIA from a number of Patent Offices :

Let us start with a few examples from western European countries: the highest percentage is found in Norway (52%), while the lowest on our list is in Italy (24%). In the USA, the percentage of filings of the three forms of patents (utility, designs and plants) during that same year (1998) was 26.8%. The figures are much higher in developing countries. Statements of representatives of these countries at WIPO forums revealed that the pecentages were often between 90 to 100%. Even in a particularly advanced developing country like Brasil, the independent inventors represent 66% of the applications for patents, utility models and industrial designs (Inquiry conducted by the Brasilian patent office (INPI) on the basis of statitics for 10 years, and published in Prejecto Inventiva).

The major problems arise when inventors want to protect their inventions outside their own country.
All observers of the international patent system stress at least two major problems: the exorbitant costs and the complexity of the system. IFIA welcomes therefore this WIPO consultation on its Patent Agenda. Our comments will be limited here to 4 out of the 31 points of the WIPO Patent Agenda: # 11 (Costs), # 1 & 2 (International Patent System), # 26 (Licensing & Marketing).

Special reduction of PCT fees

Few years ago, the Assembly of the PCT Union adopted a 75% reduction of certain PCT fees in favor of "natural persons", nationals or residents of a number of countries.

At the First Session of the Working Group on the Reform of the PCT, IFIA suggested that the International Bureau of WIPO studies the financial implications of a 50% reduction of the same fees applicable to the inventors mentioned in the above paragraph, but this time in favor of "natural persons" who are nationals or residents of all the other countries members of the PCT.

IFIA hopes that the principle of such a study will be accepted. Studies are the first step to any meaningful discussion. The system exists in several of these countries in favor of both residents and non residents, in particular in the USA, Canada, Rep. of Korea, Norway. For a full list of countries and regional offices which apply such a system in favor of independent inventors, be they residents or not, see the special webpage of IFIA website : www.invention-ifia.ch/Costs_fee_reduction_countries.htm

Towards a World Patent

IFIA participated actively in the recent PCT reform process which was initiated by the USA. Whenever possible, IFIA supported ideas and proposals which could lead, one day, in the long run, to a kind of world patent. The exact name of such an international patent system is not important. Meanwhile, IFIA has adopted the expression "world patent", a friendly-user term for inventors.

IFIA is of the opinion that the WIPO Agenda should include a clear reference to a world patent, which should be the ultimate goal of any international patent system. Such a long term objective is in no way in opposition to short term and medium term objectives.

IFIA has already launched an Internet Discussion Forum on the subject, since July 10, 2001. See special IFIA webpage www.invention-ifia.ch/WorldPatent.htm

This forum starts with a lecture on the idea of a World Patent given by IFIA President, Dr. Farag Moussa, in Helsinki, on May 18, 2001 (text available on Internet in English, with presently translations into French, Russian, Spanish, Serbo-Croat and Macedonian). It is followed by a list of references to printed or online magazines from different countries which have reproduced this text. These include the official Quarterly Gazette of the Industrial Property Protection Office of Macedonia.

The next two sections of this IFIA webpage concern the reactions of inventor associations and individual inventors, as well as those of other circles, to IFIA President's lecture on the idea of a World Patent. All in all, these comments reflect wide support to this idea. On February 15, 2002, IFIA webpage had already published 32 testimonies (15 pages A4 size) from 25 countries listed hereafter in their alphabetical order: Argentina, Bosnia, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Libya, Macedonia, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Romania, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Togo, Uruguay, USA.

Services to assist in the commercialisation of inventions

The objective of practically all inventors who patent their inventions is commercialization. WIPO could indirectly contribute to this objective. For instance WIPO could give its support to not-for-profit programs, such as the one launched by IFIA on November 15, 1999, namely the "IFIA Internet Inventions Store" (IFIS). See IFIA special webpage :www.invention-ifia.ch/store.htm

Without any outside financial support, with a lot of good will and much voluntary work, IFIS managed to become a unique online market place for inventions in a very short time. It is the only such market place in the world advertizing inventions for licensing and marketing, from such a great number of countries (on February 15, 2002, no less than 81 countries!). As to the number of inventions offered online, it is now close to 300. Many come from developing countries (as an example we have 67 inventions coming from 21 African countries).

Dr. Farag Moussa
President of IFIA
Geneva, February 15, 2002


Extracts from other written comments related to a possible World Patent

WIPO Patent Agenda Question No 2, under the heading "General policy and structure of the international patent system":

2. Subject to progress on substantive harmonization of patent laws, should there be an adoption of procedures where substantive rights could be granted under an internationally recognized procedure?

A. Patent Offices (P.O)

Argentina P.O.
No. Todavía no hemos llegado al nivel de globalización y armonización normativa necesaria como para establecer un procedimiento único a nivel internacional ya que debemos tener en cuenta las idiosincrasias y culturas jurídica sustantivas y adjetivas de cada país, que distan de estar armonizadas.

Australia P.O.
Ultimatly, yes. Differences in legal systems and precedent across the various juridictions may make complete harmonization difficult, particularly in the area of enforcement. But similarities are generally greater than differences and so this should not prevent some form of global patent grant being considerd.
Such a grant would have to be sensitive to different needs, including different stages of development of countries and different types of applicants. Alternatively, the grant of a patent in an office could be the basis for a grant in all designated offices, with designated offices having a time-limited option to perform extra search or examination to address local issues.

Bulgaria P.O.
Patent law harmonization should result in the grant of rights by an internationally recognized procedure, first through development of the existing PCT procedures.

China P.O.
From China's standpoint, even if such a uniformed global patent system, that is a uniformed global patent system for patent filing, receiving, examination and granting, would be available, countries should still maintain their last say on the invalidation and revocation of the said granted global patent right, by their national administrative or by judicial procedures. In other words, the members states should still have the right to decide on the validity patent right.

Colombia P.O.
No. Los proyectos de armonización de la ley sustantiva que permitieran pensar en una patente mundial, no son convenientes toda vez que las legislaciones son diferentes entre los Estados y la rigidez con que se realizan los estudios de fondo varía notablemente de un país a otro, lo cual no da completa seguridad respecto a la totalidad de estudios efectuados en otros países.

Czech Republic P.O.
Creation of such internationally recognized procedure would facilitate and simplify the procedure for the applicants.

Denmark P.O.
Yes, we should work towards a system, where substantive rights can be granted under an internationally recognized procedure.

France P.O.
Le PCT n'est pas en mesure à ce stade d'évoluer vers un système de délivrance internationale dont certains déposants ressentiraient le besoin.

Hungary P.O.
In the long run, subject to progress on substantive harmonization of patent laws, the possiblity of adopting procedures where substantive rights could be granted under an internationally recognized procedure will have to be examined. This system should contribute to increasing legal security.

Remarks by IFIA:
1. The government comments of Japan were submitted to WIPO by the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN in Geneva (and not by the Patent Office as such).
2. Comments from Japan start by answering to the following clear heading : "Towards Realization of World Patent" and concludes its analysis by refering to a very modern concept, namely that of a "virtual world patent system" : "… not the centralized office collecting the present offices' facilities but the virtual office based on a networked linkage of the present offices' facilities."
3. The main reference to the world patent appears under a sub-section entitled "Expansion of the PCT system" which reads as follows: "(…) the practical approach to realize the international patent granting procedures toward the world patent system should proceed separately into two cases: PCT route and Paris [Convention] route. Therefore it is considered that this cannot be implemented sufficiently just by improvement and expansion of the PCT system."

Kyrgistan P.O.
The need for the adoption of any kind of new procedures allowing substative rights to be implemented, under the internationally recognized procedure, does not currently exist.
The implementation of substantive rights, under the internationally recognized procedure, may only take the form of recommendation and may not be binding.

New Zealand P.O.
Taking into account issues such as methods of treatment of humans, and protection of traditional knowledge, etc., and different laws and approaches between countries, we believe it would be difficult for substantive rights to be granted under an internationally recognized procedure.

Sweden P.O.
Even when such harmonisation is in place, an international grant should only be preliminary, where each designated (elected, selected) state/region takes the final decision. The more harmonised patent laws will be, the less preliminary will be the international grant.

United Kingdom P.O.
In the long term, patents in many countries should be granted either directly through an international system such as the PCT, or else with as little further national examination as possible following an examination to internationally recognized standards. However, we acknowledge that significant further harmonisation will be necessary before any international instrument to this effect could usefully be adopted.

United States P.O.
A long-term objective of patent law harmonization must necessarily include the grant of rights under an internationally recognized procedure. However, the proliferation of bureaucracies to achieve such an objective should be avoided.

Uruguay P.O.
Los avances en matería de armonización sustantiva deberían circunscribirse en principio a aquellos temas que se a acordado desarrollar en las discussiones sobres SPLT.
Las ventajas del avance en la armonización de los procedimientos, tiene un limite natural en el respecto de las potestades de los diferentes países para determinar las excepciones a la materia patentable, el alcance y excepciones al derecho de patente, las licencias y otros usos sin autorización del titular de la patente, etc.

B. Non Governmental Organizations

American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)
Yes. The ultimate goal should be an internationally recognized procedure that could be carried out by any one of a plurality of examining authorities that would be given effect in all countries party to an agreement establishing such procedures.

International Association for the Protection of Industrial Property (AIPPI)
The Patent system should provide for a multiple choice of national, regional and international patent systems.

Greek Group of AIPPI
Subject to progress on substantive harmonization of patent laws, there should be an adoption of procedure, where substantive rights could be granted under an internationally recognized procedure, so that the requirements and standards applied by the various Patent Offices in various countries be the same.

International Association of Industrial Property (ASIPI)
ASIPI disagrees with changing the Patent System to become a general supranational or universal one, by means of a Patentability Certificate, a Unique Patent or any other steps for those purpose, since it requires a worldwide political integration or unit which is far from being achieved as yet. If countries having achieved a higher political integration degree and have equivalent development level want to grant an extraterritorial effect to decisions adopted abroad or preparatory decisions for them, they can do so but within a regional system or a limited treaty. However this must not be done in a general international system requiring flexibility to be applied in an undetermined number of countries of different cultural, economical and political development degrees. It is ASIPI's point of view that forcing a universal or a general supranational patent system would prevent countries from joining said system. Further it would jeopardize the image of the whole intellectual property system as to be conceived only in the interest of few largest countries and their biggest enterprises.

The Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia (IPTA)
IPTA does not believe the PCT system should be extended to provide for the grant of a patent until there is uniformity of patent laws in all member countries, as well as uniformity in the way those laws are enforced.

Oxfam (GB)
WIPO should promote wider debate among governments and public interest groups about the implications of global patent harmonisation especially as it relates to the development of centralized patent applications and grant procedures before moving ahead with this agenda. Such discussion is vital given the current inherent imbalances in the international patent system whereby the majority of patents in developed and developing countries are granted to companies in rich countries, and the negative impact this imbalance has on weak developing economies.

Trade Marks Patents and designs Federation (TMPDF)
Provided that international harmonisation of both law and practice is achieved and that PCT international search and examination are sufficiently improved, states could recognise international grant under an augmented PCT on an optional basis.

Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE)
In the revised structure of the international patent system, no national phase examination should be carried out anymore if the PCT search and examination are based on internationally agreed upon patentability standards laid down in the SPLT, and carried out by an organisation that is trusted by the various designated stated. An independent quality control mechanism should be ensured. Moreover, after a positive PCT examination, the "international patent" thus obtained should be administrated by WIPO, just as in the Madrid system for trademarks and in the Hague system for industrial designs.

Extracts from other written comments related to cost reductions

WIPO Patent Agenda Question No 11, under the heading "Costs":

11. Can low cost, high quality, alternatives for securing patent protection be developed, accessible by those would-be users (notably, individual inventors, small and medium sized enterprises, and many applicants of all sizes from developping countries, least-developed countries and countries in transition) for whom international patent protection is presently inaccessible because it is too expensive to obtain?

A. Patent Offices (P.O.)

Cost is a mojor factor in the patent system. For many small to medium enterprises, the costs of obtaining a patent prove to be insurmountable. In this regard, it should be noted that for applicants using agents, the Official fees charged by the various offices are but a small component of the real cost of obtaining a patent. Consequently, a significant change in the fees charged by an Office may not have a significant impact on the costs to the applicant of getting a patent.

(…) a wider use of the PCT procedure by applicants from developing, underdeveloped and transition countries depends on the grant of special financial concessions, such as lower fees for applicants from such countries, and especially for applicants who are inventors as well, for SME applicants, as well for applicants having declared preparedness for licensing.

Si. Por ejemblo se podría promover que las Oficinas nacionales ofrecieran durante su fase nacional descuentos especiales para solicitantes nacionales de los países en desarrollo, países menos adelantados y países en transición.

Czech Republic
Different forms of assistance provided to these applicants, including the fees reduction, should be investigated. It is necessary to take into account that the accessibility of the international patent protection is closely related to the costs of the enforcement of patent rights. See also reply ad 10 above [re Utility Model].

It would not be fortunate to create multilevel, different systems on account of financial consideration. However, certain preferences should be introduced or maintained.

For applicants who do not currently have access to international patent protection, as a result of the cost of obtaining it, it is essential to devise an alternative available mechanism for gaining such acces.This can be achieved, for example, by creating a system of priviliges for particular categories of applicants, countries and future-oriented fields of technology, and by providing assistance for specific categories of countries from developed States and regional offices, when carring out a patent search.

United Kingdom
The aim of our efforts should be to reduce the cost of the existing patent system so that its actual costs are affordable by the smallest of businesses. Alternative systems of unexamined rights are unlikely to be cheaper in the long run than an efficient international system of examined patents. Nevertheless, we should recognize that some groups will generally be less able to afford the official fees involved and continue to consider the need for fee structures where some applications receive a discount, supported by others.

United States
(…) our energies [should] be focused on the current activities in PCT reform and the SCP, along with any bilateral or regional solutions. The results of our current activities should inure to the benefit, especially, of independent inventors and medium sized entreprises and applicant(s) from developing countries, least-developed countries and countries in transition.

B. Non Governmental Organizations

Greek Group of AIPPI
Low cost, high quality alternatives for securing patent protection should be developed, accessible by those would-be users (notably, individual inventors, small and medium sized enterprises, and many applicants of all sizes from developing countries, least-developed countries and countries in transition) for whom international patent protection is presently inaccessible because it is too expensive to obtain.

International Association for the Protection of Industrial Property (AIPPI)
Perhaps the only measure that could be established in the patent system under this heading [commercial and User Issues] is to adopt a small entity fee policy internationally like the one in force in the USA.

Extracts from other written comments related to licensing and commercialization of inventions

WIPO Patent Agenda Question No 26, plus introduction to the three questions under the heading "Orientation towards licensing and marketing":

Issues which may be addressed here include the necessity for mechanisms and programs designed to provide:
26. Support for international licensing and other business transactions, including development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and technology transfer agreements.

A. Patent Offices (P.O)

Argentina P.O.
Un inventor de un país en vías de desarrollo tiene enormes dificultades económicas a la hora de buscar posibles licenciatarios o compradores para su invento. Un posible único centro de publicacíon de solicitudes favorecería sus posibilidades, máxime si además presta la asistencia indicada en los puntos 26, 27 y 28. Inclusive este centro único de Ompi podría tener delegaciones regionales, cuya función sería proveer el asesoramiento requerido a los inventores de esa región.

Australia P.O.
Licensing , contracts and assignments have a pivotal role in securing efficient use of intellectual property. The initial owners of intellectual property rights are often not the best parties to exploit the output of their creative efforts because they may not have the physical or financial ressources to do so. In addition, commercial products often embody technology covered by claims in tens or even hundreds of patents owned by multiple rights owners.
If a global patent system is to be economically effective through stimulating innovation that leads to commercialization, it clearly needs to be aware of other stages in the commercialization process. However, the role of government is to provide an appropriate environment for this to occur on a commercial basis.

Bulgaria P.O.
In all countries, including Bulgaria, individual inventors count on the sale of licenses for making profits on their inventions. That is why we suggest that WIPO creates an electronic Internet bulletin, in which offers will be published for licensing of inventions and utility models. Such a bulletin would help establish contacts between the inventor as a licenser and the licensee. Such an electronic publication may be maintained by the payment of a small fee or by a rated deduction from the licenses sold or in some other way.

China P.O.
China suggests that WIPO, together with various industrial property offices, should adopt appropriate methods, in accordance with the situation in that specific country, to promote the commercialization of patented technology as well as dissemination and circulation of patent information.

Colombia P.O.
La realización de esta asistencia es muy importante, sobre todo si proporciona los mecanismos y conocimientos que faciliten el intercambia de informacón y las investigaciones conjuntas entre los nacionales de países en desarrollo, países menos adelantados y países en transición y las empresas o personas de países desarrollados que cuenten con cierta tecnología. Creemos que este tipo de asesorías debería ser guiada inicialmente hacia el intercambio de información y el trabajo en grupo donde participa la academia.

Czech Republic P.O.
In our view studies and projects focused on these questions and areas would be desirable.

Denmark P.O.
We think this is outside the scope of a worldwide patenting system.

Hungary P.O.
[No answer was given to this question]

Kyrgistan P.O.
The issuee of creating programs and devising international licensing mechanisms have come to the fore. These programs and mechanisms should take account of the interest in and simplified opportunities for developing countries to obtain new technologies within the new political situation in the world and universal globalization.

New Zealand P.O.
We have not made any comment on items 26-28, as these items are not part of the patent granting process and the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand does not pay a role in this area.

Sweeden P.O.
The commercialisation of patented inventions is a particular problem for individual inventors and SMEs. One way of assisting patentees to find financiers, buyers, partners, licensees etc., might be to open the web site of the IP office for advertising new inventions.

United Kingdom P.O.
This is essentially a matter for the patentee to decide as he sees best. WIPO should however retain its role in promoting the benefits of the patent system, particularly to developing countries so that users are aware of the use that they can make of such rights.

United States P.O.
While we regard the issues addressed in questions 26 through 29 as being important, we do not see a role for WIPO. By and large, these are private, market-based matters, which are best addressed outside of the sphere of influence from individual governments, international organizations or intergovernmental organizations. If a given country is interested in information on any of the issues raised, they should seek training directly with appropriate representatives from the private sector.

As previously noted, consideration of assistance relating to licensing issues may, however, be appropriate. Note that our Office of Independent Inventor Programs provides general information of this nature via its web page.

Uruguay P.O.
La existencia de programas bajo éste titulo, destinados a los objectivos anotados en los puntos 26., 27., resultan de fundamental importancia para los países en desarrollo, en la medida que se trata de instrumentos que permiten la efectiva comercialización o aplicación de las nuevas tecnologias en la etapa siguiente a su patentamiento, clave para hacer posible la transferencia de technologia, las inversiones y la concreción de proyectos de I+D.
La información a diseminar entre los usuarios sobre el sistema de patentes, es incompleta, si no se complementa con el conocimiento de las formas para transferir la tecnologia patentada, desarrollarla y aplicarla. Se trata de un aspecto que permanece oscuro, especialmente para los inventores individuales y pequeñas empresas, y en los países en desarrollo.
En consecuencia, el desarrollo de programas con los fines indicados en esos puntos debe ser ubicado en un alto grado de prioridad entre los objetivos del Programa de Desarrollo del Sistema de Patentes.
En la definición de éstos programas, deberán tenerse especialmente en cuenta las particularidades de los países en desarrollo, y considerarse las decisiones y politicas nacionales en matería de desarrollo tecnológico.

B. Non Governmental Organizations

American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)
It would appear that the current free market allows for such for international licensing and other business transactions, including development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and technology transfer agreements. Governments and regional authorities generally should be very cautious about involvement in the competitive arena, and should allow private enterprise and free-market forces to operate without unreasonable interference in such areas.

Greek Group of AIPPI
WIPO may give some guidelines for international licensing, business transactions including development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and technology transfer and agreements relating to patent rights but the rules of the free market internationally are mainly those which will be followed by the parties involved.

International Association for the Protection of Industrial Property (AIPPI)
All the issues raised under this paragraph are very important but unrelated to the patent system. They deal with the assistance the governments and international associations can provide to SMEs or nationals of developing countries, that is to say, to those who cannot by themselves exploit their technology.
As has already been mentioned, the patent system must be quite neutral in this respect, because whatever means are put in place under the patent system, they must be affordable to any kind of applicant, either small or large, either from developed or developing countries.

Trade Mark Patents and Designs Federation (TMPDF)
It is doubtful that this should be a WIPO activity, but WIPO might be able to arrange for training and/or central information exchange for enterprises in developing countries.

Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE)
UNICE is of the opinion that WIPO could be regarded as a suitable forum to develop training and/or central information exchange for enterprises in developing countries. However, other non-governmental and business bodies/associations should be involved.

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