By Max Clarke

The IP offices of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) have today launched a pilot system to make it easier to access results of search and examination from other offices. The Centralized Access to Search and Examination system (CASE) provides a digital library of search and exam reports which can be shared by participating IP offices.

The launch of the CASE is a significant advancement towards greater cooperation between IP offices in sharing the results of examination work. This will help reduce the time spent on processing duplicate applications filed in multiple offices. The duplication of work is a contributing factors to the growing patent backlog that is estimated to cost the global economy £7.6 billion for every year of extra delay caused by backlogs.

CASE is the latest addition to the Vancouver Group Mutual Exploitation initiative which is aimed at eliminating unnecessary rework and duplication in prosecuting patent applications.

The Vancouver Group (UK, Australian and Canadian) Intellectual Property offices will be the first to use the CASE system but other offices may join if the pilot is successful.

UK Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Wilcox said:

“Sharing the analysis of patents between countries is a real step forward. Businesses in each country will benefit as their patent applications are processed quicker cutting the time it takes for new products to reach the market.

“Dealing with the backlog of patent applications is essential in helping companies grow and prosper.”

WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry, said:

“The sustainability of the patent system is threatened by ever-increasing backlogs and by doubts about patent quality. Creative, multilateral solutions are required.” He added “WIPO CASE is an initiative designed to offer a solution for patent offices to deal with the situation through closer collaboration. We hope that more countries will join this initiative”