The year 2020 brought closer the launch of a new interstate system for legal protection of industrial designs in the Eurasian patent space. The Eurasian Patent Organization laid the foundation for its further development and discovered new areas of cooperation between the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO) and various countries and regions worldwide.
Ratification by the six Contracting States party to the Eurasian Patent Convention (EAPC) of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs to the EAPC came as the most important result of the international cooperation in 2020, while the highlights of the said endeavor were depositing of the first three instruments of ratification with the depositary of the Protocol (the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)) and setting the date of the entry into force of the Protocol for March 17, 2021.
The EAPO made a considerable step forward upon receiving a recommendation from the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Committee for Technical Cooperation for the Assembly of the PCT Union regarding the appointment of the EAPO as an International Searching Authority (ISA) and an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) under the PCT. The adoption of this recommendation by the PCT Committee for Technical Cooperation at its thirty-first session on October 5 to 8, 2020, further enhanced the status of the EAPO in the international professional environment.
The Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) became a new partner office of the EAPO under the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program. On August 1, 2020, the PPH pilot program, based on the Memorandum of Understanding concluded between the Offices on April 24, 2020, was launched. The pilot PPH programs acquired a permanent status with the Japanese Patent Office on May 1, 2020, and with the European Patent Office on October 1, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a need for major changes to EAPO's international activity plans and usual modalities of interaction. The remote format has become the main way of communicating and conducting events. As of the end of 2020, the EAPO representatives participated in 92 events, including 66 held in the remote format, and 34 events held with the participation of the EAPO President.
COOPERATION WITH THE EAPC CONTRACTING STATES
Creation of EAPO-based system for legal protection of industrial designs
During the reporting year, representatives of the EAPO participated in working meetings and events held in the EAPC Contracting States on the ratification of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs to the EAPC and provided the necessary legal advice.
On February 20, 2020, in the EAPO headquarters and on November 9, 2020, in the Republic of Kazakhstan the working meetings were held between EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova and the Vice-Minister of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan Akerke Akhmetova. The progress of the Protocol ratification by the Republic of Kazakhstan was discussed during the meeting. Another topic was the economic and practical aspects of Kazakhstan participation in the new regional system of legal protection of industrial designs.
On June 10, 2020, EAPO representatives took part in consideration of the Draft Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on ratification of the Protocol during the meeting of the working group of the Committee on Legislation and Judicial and Legal Reform of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan that was held via videoconference. The Draft Law was presented by the Vice Minister of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan Akerke Akhmetova.
The participants of the meeting discussed the opportunities for Kazakhstan applicants for regional protection of industrial designs, concurrent engagement of the Eurasian system and the Hague system for international registration of industrial designs, issues of holder's right of disposal to Eurasian industrial designs. The EAPO representatives provided comments on certain questions of the deputies of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In 2020, work continued on the creation of a system of normative legal acts on the regional legal protection of industrial designs.
On November 25 and December 8, 2020, meetings of the working group on the establishment of the Eurasian system of legal protection of industrial designs were held via videoconference. The meetings were attended by representatives of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Armenia, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the EAPO.
Bilateral Cooperation with IP Offices
Given the limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, cooperation between the EAPO and the national patent offices of the EAPC Contracting States took place during the reporting year mainly via videoconference.
On October 20–21, 2020, EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova and representatives of the Office took part in the XXIV International Conference of the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) "Transformation of IP in the Contemporary Environment".
In the speech given at the opening plenary session of the conference, the EAPO President cited selected performance indicators demonstrating the level of automation achieved by the Office, which allowed the Office to move to a remote working format within days during the restrictive measures caused by the spread of COVID-19. She also spoke about the EAPO receiving the PCT Committee for Technical Cooperation recommendation to the PCT Union Assembly for appointment as an ISA/IPEA under the PCT.
Saule Tlevlessova thanked the Russian Federation acting as the coordinator of the Caucasian Central Asian and Eastern European Countries (CACEEC) for the support provided at the diplomatic level, expressed gratitude to the EAPC Contracting States, whose support helped the EAPO to convince the whole world of the importance of its this appointment for the Eurasian region.
The EAPO representatives briefed the audience on approaches to patenting pharmaceutical products at the EAPO and participated in the discussion on patent legislation for the protection of IP rights in the circulation of medicines at the section "Rospatent against COVID-19".
At the section titled "Is opposition needed procedures for patentable designs?" the participants spoke about the particular aspects of procedures related to filing and examining opposition as outlined in the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Design to the EAPC and about the mechanisms that would allow to take into account the interests of both the applicants and the Contracting States, as well as the third parties.
On September 17, 2020, representatives of the EAPO took part in the seminar "International Registration of Industrial Property. The Hague System for the Registration of Industrial Designs", organized by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan to study the possibilities of the country to join the Hague system of industrial design registration. The said event showcased the experience of Kazakhstan, Germany and the European Union on the legal protection of industrial designs.
October 29, 2020, the State Service of Intellectual Property and Innovation under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzpatent) jointly with WIPO, the EAPO and Rospatent held the 1st Congress of Coordinators of Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISCs) of the Kyrgyz Republic.
The representative of the EAPO made a presentation about the peculiarities of using the Eurasian Patent Information System (EAPATIS), to which public libraries and leading universities of the Kyrgyz Republic have free access, as well as demonstrated the functional characteristics and search capabilities of the said system.
On April 22–24, 2020, during the series of Rospatent webinars on the new digital projects in the IP field the EAPO representatives got acquainted with the functionality of the digital platform of patent information search, information systems of digital interaction with the applicants, management decision support, distributed register for IP rights and marks and means of individualization.
On June 18, 2020, at the Rospatent roundtable "Digital Platform for Search of Patent Information and Means of Individualization" IT-experts and EAPO examiners, based on their experience of creating their own search system, discussed with Rospatent colleagues the functionality of the platform most interest from the point of view of patent office, and expressed readiness to participate in testing the platform and their concern in its integration with the internal information systems of the Office.
EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova took part in the meetings of the Collegium of Rospatent held on March 11, 2020, at Rospatent headquarters and on November 24, 2020, via videoconference.
Saule Tlevlessova cited the statistical data on the use of the Eurasian patent system by the Russian applicants, noted the professional work of Rospatent examiners on the examination of applications in the most promising areas of science and technology (summing-up Collegium meeting held on March 11, 2020), introduced the current and future trends of the EAPO, spoke on the development of the Eurasian integration in the field of intellectual property (Collegium meeting held on November 24, 2020).
The EAPO President expanded on the work of the EAPO Member States on the creation of a new interstate system in the field of intellectual property - the Eurasian system of legal protection of industrial designs. She thanked the Russian Federation for its active support of the project, proposed to consider utility models as a promising subject matter, which could be protected by a Eurasian patent in the future, and expressed an opinion on possible cooperation of the Eurasian patent integration countries in the field of centralized registration of license agreements concluded in respect of Eurasian patents for inventions, creation and maintenance of a single Register of active pharmacological ingredients protected by invention patents on the territory of the EAEU Member States.
On November 6, 2020, an expert meeting on the creation of a single Eurasian court jurisdiction in the IP field was held via videoconference. Representatives of the EAPO, the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), the Court on IP Rights and the Russian federal ministries took part in the meeting chaired by Grigory Ivliev, the Head of Rospatent.
The EAPO representatives noted a number of difficulties associated with the different membership of countries participating in the regional patenting and trademark registration systems operating within the EAPO and the EEU, and the need to amend the basic documents of the EAPO – the EAPC and the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs to the EAPC, and drew attention to the small number of disputes on Eurasian patents considered in the national courts of the EAPC Contracting States.
In the reporting year, a regular visit of an EAPO expert to Kyrgyzpatent took place as part of the provision of with advisory support in automation of technological processes for receiving and examining applications for industrial property.
On February 11–12, 2020, in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, a representative of the EAPO gave recommendations on compliance of the electronic filing system being implemented in Kyrgyzpatent with information security requirements and internal workflow of the Office.
Cooperation between the EAPO and national IP Offices of the EAPC Contracting States on the development of interdepartmental electronic workflow continued.
On November 9, 2020, during her visit to Nur-Sultan, Republic of Kazakhstan, EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova visited the National Institute of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NIIP) and met with NIIP Director Yerbol Ospanov. The heads of the EAPO and NIIP discussed the current cooperation between the two Offices, including the results of the transition to the permanent electronic exchange of documents on Eurasian applications and patents in accordance with the bilateral agreement signed in 2019, the issues of receipt and examination of applications for inventions.
On November 20, 2020, the Agreement on electronic exchange of documents on Eurasian patents applications and Eurasian patents between the EAPO and Kyrgyzpatent entered into force, which consolidated the cooperation of the Offices in the field of electronic workflow management and created a legal basis for the transition to full-fledged electronic interaction. The agreement was signed by EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova and Chairman of Kyrgyzpatent Dinara Moldosheva.
Interdepartmental electronic interaction was the main topic of the meeting of representatives of the EAPO and the Federal Institute of Industrial Property (FIPS), which took place on November 26, 2020, via videoconference. The parties identified priority areas for the development of electronic exchange of documents related to applications for the grant of Eurasian patents for inventions and industrial designs.
The reporting year saw continuation of cooperation between the EAPO and EAPC Contracting States on regional projects in the IP field.
On April 30, 2020, representatives of the EAPO took part in the meeting of the Coordination Council for Commercial-Scale Release of Regional Patent Information Product of the CIS Countries (CISPATENT). The participants of the meeting considered the current issues of the CISPATENT implementation and discussed the proposals on its development submitted by Rospatent and agreed on the further procedure for discussion of the related practical issues. The updated CISPATENT is expected to expand the scope of published information, ensure even greater uniformity, and generally increase the attractiveness of the CISPATENT product, both in the project member states and beyond.
On August 25, 2020, during the 10th session of the Interstate Council on the Issues of Legal Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual Property (MGSIS) the proposal of the Russian Federation on further development of the CISPATENT was approved. At the same time it was noted the need for additional work on the financial, technical and other aspects of the implementation of the new project concept.
The session was chaired by Viorel Justin, Director General of the State Agency of Intellectual Property of the Republic of Moldova (AGEPI). Among the participants of the said session were delegations of the EAPO and IP Offices of the EAPC Contracting States: Republic of Armenia, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, Republic of Tajikistan, delegations of the patent offices of the Republic of Moldova and Republic of Uzbekistan, representatives of the CIS Executive Committee, WIPO, and the EEC.
On June 19, 2020, EAPO Vice-President Armen Azizyan spoke at the 10th session of the Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property under the EEC Collegium, supporting the initiative of the Russian Federation to create a single Register of active pharmacological ingredients protected by invention patents on the territory of the EAEU Member States and the participation of patent offices in the creation and maintenance of the Register.
Armen Azizyan drew attention to the fact that in the EAEC Member States the inventions relating to active pharmacological ingredients, along with national ones, are also protected by Eurasian patents, which should be taken into account when creating the Register, noting that the long-term experience of the EAPO in maintaining a regional register of Eurasian patents for inventions operating in the eight EAPC Contracting States suggests that the creation of the Register will require joint work to address a large number of organizational and technical issues.
Members of the Advisory Committee with the participation of representatives of the EEC Business Development Department discussed the current state and certain areas of development of intellectual property in the EAEC Member States.
Cooperation in Education
EAPO continued to finance expenditure on training staff of national IP Offices of the EAPC Contracting States at the Russian State Academy of Intellectual Property (RGAIS) in 2020, in particular: 3 persons were enrolled in postgraduate Law program, 28 persons participated in vocational retraining program "Intellectual Property. Patenting". In addition to that, 20 persons were trained remotely using distance learning technologies.
Based on the needs of the State Service of Intellectual Property and Innovation under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzpatent), the training of Kyrgyzpatent experts at RGAIS in 2020 was replaced by the training on the organization and support of the digital production laboratory (FabLab). 6 experts of the department of industrial innovations FabLab of Kyrgyzpatent have been trained remotely under the program "FabLab: a practical guide", organized by InKata LLC (Republic of Belarus). During the training, the experts of the Kyrgyz IP Office got acquainted with the issues of complex management of the processes of development and implementation of integrated information systems and technologies to enable the FabLab using the principles of Lean Production.
The epidemiological situation in 2020 did not allow to carry out the planned trainings of examiners of national patent offices in the EAPO headquarters, as well as training of IT-experts of the offices in the Moscow training center of additional professional education "SoftLine Education".
International Fora and Conferences
The VIII International Forum "Anticounterfeit 2020", organized by the Government of the Republic of Belarus, the EEC and the International Association of organizations on combating against illicit trafficking in counterfeit goods "Anticounterfeit", took place in Minsk, the Republic of Belarus, on December 21–22, 2020. The EAPO delegation headed by EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova took part in the Forum.
The EAPO President delivered her welcoming speech at the plenary session of the Forum dedicated to the combating against counterfeiting as a prerequisite for sustainable development of the economies of the EAEU Member States, as well as the issues of IP protection. Saule Tlevlessova highly appreciated the role of the Republic of Belarus in the regional system of invention protection, commenting the statistics of applications submitted to the EAPO, including the applications submitted by the Belarusian applicants, who are steadily among the top ten most active users of the Eurasian patent procedure.
On the sidelines of the Forum President of the EAPO gave an interview to the Belarusian media, in which she spoke about the activities of the EAPO and the significance of protecting intellectual property at the regional level, noted the importance of involving young people in IP matters, combating counterfeiting and preventing violations of IP rights.
The conference participants were also introduced to the peculiar aspects of the Eurasian patent system functioning in the current pandemic situation, presented during the report of the EAPO representative at the discussion session on protection of IP subject matters in emergency situations.
On October 8 – 9, 2020, EAPO representatives took part in "DISTANT & DIGITAL" international online conference on development of intellectual property and legal innovations, which brought together two major annual events traditionally held at the Skolkovo Innovation Center, i.e. IP Academy and Skolkovo LegalTech.
EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova spoke at the official opening of the event praising the continuous development of the IP Academy and noting the results of the 10-year work of the Skolkovo Foundation to assist resident companies in filing international applications.
During the discussion sessions the EAPO representatives, whose participation in the IP Academy Conference is expanding every year, discussed the legal tools for patent protection of inventions at the national and regional levels, talked about the peculiarities of patenting medicines under the Eurasian legislation, conducted master classes on the Office’s approaches of examination of applications in the field of biotechnology and computer technology, made a presentation on remote services for Eurasian applicants.
On October 20, 2020, the EAPO representative spoke at the educational seminar "Intellectual Property in Medical Innovation Development" organized for the participants of the Patents Power 2020 biomedical startups contest, representatives of the pharmaceutical and medical industries. In his presentation the EAPO representative spoke about the role of patents in the development of biotech startups, shared practical tips on patenting by startups of innovative medicines, demonstrated the peculiarities of patenting developments in the field of pharmaceuticals and medicine within the Eurasian patent system and in other jurisdictions.
On October 21, 2020, the EAPO representative highlighted the practice of the Office in the field of electronic interaction with applicants, their representatives and interested parties at the round table organized by Gorodissky & Partners law firm within the XXIV International Conference of Rospatent "Transformation of IP in the Contemporary Environment".
On October 27, 2020, the EAPO representative participated in the discussion of approaches to patenting selection inventions at the roundtable "Use of interval features in patent claims" held within the 18th Annual Seminar "IP Protection Strategies for Efficient Company Development" of Gorodissky & Partners law firm.
Promotion of the Eurasian Patent System
The brightest events of 2020 were the awarding ceremonies in the EAPC Contracting States of the V.I. Blinnikov Gold Medal “For Promoting Invention and Patent Practice”, which is the highest EAPO award.
In accordance with the decision made by the Administrative Council of the EAPO at its session on September 10-11, 2020, the V.I. Blinnikov Gold Medal “For Promoting Invention and Patent Practice” was awarded:
September 30, 2020,in the Republic of Kazakhstan:
• to Turegeldy Sharmanov, Doctor of Medicine, Professor, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan, President of the Kazakh Academy of Nutrition LLP, for his contribution to the development of inventive activity,
• to Satbayev University for contribution to the development of inventive activity;
October 14, 2020 in the Republic of Belarus:
• to Galina Bazhina, PhD in chemistry, head of the Chemistry Department of the Industrial Property Examination Department of the State Institution "National Center of Intellectual Property”, for her contribution to the development of patenting in the Eurasian region;
On October 29, 2020, in the Kyrgyz Republic:
• to Mir-Ali Baltabaev, Doctor of Medicine, Professor, head of the Department of Dermatovenereology and Phthisiology at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, for his contribution to the development of inventive activity,
• to Igor Bochkarev, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor, Professor of the Department "Electromechanics" of the Kyrgyz State Technical University named after Ishak Razzakov, for his contribution to the development of patenting in the Eurasian region;
On October 15 - 16, 2020, in the Russian Federation:
• to Leo Bokeria, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, President of A.N. Bakulev National Medical Research Center of Cardiovascular Surgery of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, for the contribution in the development of inventive activity,
• to the National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology named after Honorary Academician N.F. Gamaleya of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, for the contribution to the development of inventive activity.
EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova participated in the ceremonies of awarding the V.I. Blinnikov Gold Medal to Leo Bokeria and the staff of the N.F. Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology.
On October 20, 2020, representatives of the EAPO took part in determining the winners of the Patents Power 2020 biomedical startup contest organized by the Skolkovo Foundation, the Skolkovo IP Center, and Bayer at the Moscow International Forum of Innovative Development 2020.
The EAPO representatives as part of the expert jury examined the projects of the contest finalists and took part in the evaluation of the projects. The EAPO representative noted the increase in the number of projects aimed at improving the quality of life, while pointing out to the contest participants that patent protection provides a monopoly of an innovative solution and contributes to investors’ confidence and constitutes the basis for the successful commercialization of a product or technology.
According to the results of the evaluation, the EAPO Medal "Advancing the Future" was adjudge to the project "Personal Treatment and Health Management" related to the development of an integrated system of drug delivery and monitoring the efficacy of treatment and patient health using nanoaerosol forms of drugs. Representatives of the Office noted the high potential for IP protection of the project.
On November 26, 2020, at the EAPO headquarters President Tlevlessova awarded the EAPO Medal "Advancing the Future" to the developer of the "Personal Treatment and Health Management" project, the Research and Production Innovative Implementation Center Ltd.
For many years the EAPO has been a partner of the RGAIS International Intellectual Property Olympiad for high school students in order to support the Academy's efforts to raise IP awareness among young people.
On May 21, 2020, Emil Mammadov, Vice-President of the EAPO, spoke at the awards ceremony of the XII International Olympiad, which was held via videoconference, emphasizing the importance of this educational project for the sphere of intellectual property and noting the high level of the contestants' works.
Natalya Dvoryantseva, a representative of the Russian Federation, was awarded the EAPO Medal "Advancing the Future" for her creative work "What does it mean to be an author in the modern world?" and took one of the prizes.
On October 6, 2020, in order to learn about EAPO activities and discuss possible participation of students of Russian military educational institutions in educational and competitive events held by the EAPO in the field of invention and intellectual property, the head of the Department of intellectual property, military technical cooperation and examination of supplies of weapons and military equipment of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation Andrey Kotlyar visited the EAPO headquarters. The meeting was attended by EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova and the heads of the Office’s structural divisions.
On October 15, 2020, the Second Eurasian Patent Universiade "Advancing the Future" dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the EAPO started. Students of educational organizations and other interested persons aged 18 to 25 were invited to participate in the Universiade. Summing up of the results of the Universiade will take place in 2021. Winners will be awarded the EAPO Medal "Advancing the Future" and valuable prizes.
On October 16, 2020, in the EAPO headquarters a meeting took place that was dedicated to holding the International Assembly of Young Inventors of the Eurasian Economic Union in Velikiy Novgorod, Russian Federation, on May 19-21, 2021. The meeting was attended by EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova, member of the Council on Intellectual Property under the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Sergey Fabrichnyi and other members of the Assembly organizing committee.
The participants of the meeting discussed the business and cultural program of the Assembly, possible location to hold various events under the program aimed at participants of different ages, as well as other organizational issues. One of the main sections of the program will include presentations and practical sessions, which will be conducted by EAPO experts.
The Assembly will be attended by young inventors who won International Children’s Competition “School Patent – a Step into the Future!”, the Eurasian Patent Universiade "Advancing the Future" and other national and international competitions.
COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION (WIPO)
EAPO representatives participated in meetings of the WIPO Governing Bodies and relevant committees and working groups either in person or remotely: the Sixty-First Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the WIPO Member States, the Twenty-Fifth Session of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property, the Thirty-Second Session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents, the Forty-Third Session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications, the Eighth Session of the Committee on WIPO Standards and its Task Force on 3D, the Fifty-Second Session of the Committee of Experts of the IPC Union, the Thirteenth Session of the PCT Working Group, the Ninth session of the Working Group on the Legal Development of the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs.
On February 7, 2020, the EAPO representative met with the head and staff members of the Standards Section of the International Classification and Standards Division of the Global Infrastructure Sector of WIPO at the WIPO headquarters in order to discuss the current activities of the Standards Committee and its task forces for the revision of WIPO standards and recommendations and the EAPO participation in these activities. The EAPO representative spoke about the Office's plans for the implementation of standards and discussed other areas of interaction with WIPO in the field of patent information and documentation.
Based on WIPO webinars and discussions, EAPO representatives were introduced to WIPO's new digital service "WIPO PROOF" (webinar "Launch of the new digital service WIPO PROOF", September 25, 2020), WIPO Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools for classification, analysis and public access to global intellectual property databases (webinar "WIPO Al-based Tools and Services", October 6, 2020), the impact of artificial intelligence technologies on modern intellectual property systems, including patent offices (second and third rounds of the "Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence" discussion, July 7–9 / November 4, 2020, webinar "WIPO Policy on Intellectual Property and AI", December 15, 2020).
While speaking at the third round of discussions on capacity building in the field of artificial intelligence on November 4, 2020, a representative of the EAPO voiced the Office's position on possible measures aimed at reducing the technological gap in the field of artificial intelligence in IP Offices, made suggestions for further strengthening WIPO's role in the creation and distribution of tools based on artificial intelligence, the participation of regional and national Offices in these activities.
Requesting the Status of an International Authority under the PCT System
The EAPO acted within 2020 with the support of the EAPC Contracting States and in close cooperation with WIPO to push further the initiative related to seeking appointment of EAPO as an International Searching Authority (ISA) and an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) under the PCT.
On May 27, 2020, EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova held a meeting via videoconference with the WIPO delegation headed by the Director of the Department for Transition and Developed Countries (TDC) Michal Svantner. The discussion focused on the issue of obtaining the status of ISA and IPEA by the EAPO, as well as the challenges imposed on the Office in the context of performing the functions of the International Authority under the PCT. The parties agreed on further cooperation and planned the forthcoming visits of the EAPO representatives to WIPO in order to obtain advisory support in this regard.
On June 10 and July 22, 2020, meetings of WIPO Member States regional group coordinators were held via videoconference to discuss procedural issues regarding the appointment of the EAPO as an ISA/IPEA under the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meetings were attended by representatives of certain states and WIPO senior officers, as well as EAPO representatives.
Organization of the said meetings was prompted by the absence of a decision-making procedure at the WIPO level in a remote format and, in particular, the lack of consensus among regional groups and WIPO Member States on the rules of such a procedure, as well as by the decision to postpone the meetings of the principal committees and bodies of WIPO previously scheduled to take place from June to September of the reporting year.
Following these meetings, the participants reached consensus on holding the Thirty-First Session of the PCT Committee for Technical Cooperation as one of the first meetings scheduled in a hybrid format in October 2020 and including into its agenda the issue of appointment of the EAPO as an ISA/IPEA under the PCT, as well as on discussing the said issue during the next extraordinary meeting of the Assembly of the PCT Union in 2021.
In the course of preparations to performing the ISA/IPEA functions by the EAPO, WIPO webinars on "The PCT System: International Search Stage" and "The PCT System: International Preliminary Examination Stage" took place in June and August, 2020, to allow examiners and other employees of the Office to enhance their knowledge of the legal and organizational aspects of the PCT system, to receive necessary clarifications on procedural issues related to the ISA/IPEA functions.
A regular Meeting of Coordinators of Regional Groups of WIPO Member States with the participation of representatives of certain states, the WIPO Secretariat and the EAPO took place on September 25, 2020, via videoconference to discuss the priorities for the agenda of the Thirteenth Session of the PCT Working Group and Thirty-First Session of the PCT Committee for Technical Cooperation, as well as the time and duration of the meetings themselves, scheduled for October 5 to 8, 2020.
As a result of the discussions, the issue of making a recommendation to the Assembly of the PCT Union on the appointment of the EAPO as an ISA/IPEA under the PCT was deemed to be the highest priority for inclusion in the agenda of the Thirty-First session of the PCT Committee for Technical Cooperation. This priority was supported by the representatives of all the regional groups and certain WIPO Member States who had spoken at the meeting.
The PCT Committee for Technical Cooperation made a recommendation to the Assembly of the PCT Union to appoint the EAPO as an ISA and IPEA under the PCT at its Thirty-First Session, which took place in a hybrid format on October 6, 2020. The appointment of the EAPO was the first expert level issue considered in offline format by WIPO since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova and members of the EAPO delegation who participated in the session remotely presented the EAPO statement of appointment as an ISA and IPEA supported by written statements of Kazakhstan, Colombia, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, China, Czechia, Republic of Moldova, Armenia, Chile, Brazil, Belarus, Canada, Egypt and Mexico.
The delegations from China, Russian Federation, United States of America, Kazakhstan, and United Kingdom made statements supporting the proposal to give an advice to the PCT Union Assembly on the appointment of the EAPO as an ISA/IPEA.
EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova, taking the floor at the end of the discussions, expressed her gratitude to the WIPO Member States and regional groups whose support and constructive position contributed to the recommendation on the EAPO’s appointment, stressed the importance of this appointment not only for the Eurasian region, but also for the PCT system as a whole, and expressed confidence that the EAPO would justify the trust granted by the global IP community.
Special appreciation was extended to the National Intellectual Property Administration of the People's Republic of China (CNIPA) and the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent), who acted as assisting offices in assessing the EAPO's compliance with the PCT criteria for designation as an ISA and an IPEA, as well as to the representatives of the WIPO's PCT Business Development Division for their numerous consultations on the appointment procedure.The decision on the appointment of the EAPO as an ISA/IPEA will be made during an extraordinary meeting of the PCT Union Assembly in 2021.
Cooperation Aimed at Establishment the Eurasian System of Legal Protection of Industrial Designs
In 2020, the depositary of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs to the EAPC, i.e. the Director General of WIPO, received the instruments of ratification of the first three EAPC Contracting States that had completed their domestic procedures to ratify the Protocol. The instruments were deposited at WIPO headquarters to WIPO Director General Daren Tang.
On October 15, 2020 the Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, Daniiar Mukashev, deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs by the Kyrgyz Republic.
On December 9, 2020, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, Vaqif Sadiqov, deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs by the Republic of Azerbaijan.
On December 17, 2020, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, Andranik Hovhannisyan, deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs by the Republic of Armenia.
During the reporting year the EAPO continued to keep WIPO informed about completed and forthcoming stages of establishment of the EAPO-based system of legal protection of industrial designs, as well as about the progress of ratification by the EAPC Contracting States of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs.
On May 27, 2020, at the meeting with the WIPO delegation headed by Michal Svantner, Director of the Department for Transition and Developed Countries, EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova and heads of the Office’s structural divisions, discussed the possibility of transferring the instruments of ratification to the depository under the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic
The issues related to the launch of EAPO activities in the field of industrial designs was also among the topics of the meeting, as well as the need to organize study visits for EAPO employees on industrial designs, including the use of software products and electronic services of WIPO.
On June 17, 2020 representatives of the Hague Registry of Brands and Design Sector and the Department for Transition and Developed Countries of WIPO were informed about the process of drafting by the EAPO and the EAPC Contracting States of normative legal acts detailing the provisions of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs, which are the challenges to be faced in order to ensure filing of Eurasian design applications, publishing and granting Eurasian patents for industrial designs, electronic filing of Eurasian applications based on information systems used by the EAPO.
As a result of the meeting, the intention to continue cooperation on the EAPO accession to the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs was agreed upon. The representatives of WIPO expressed their readiness to support the EAPO on various aspects of the procedure, including the preparation of declarations that allow taking into account the peculiarities of the regional legislation in the field of industrial design protection.
On July 17, 2020, representatives of the EAPO met with WIPO Deputy Legal Counsel Anna Morawiec Mansfield to discuss the anticipated timeline for depositing the ratification instruments of the EAPC Contracting States to WIPO.
On December 17, 2020, WIPO officially notified the EAPO of the entry into force of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs on March 17, 2021 for the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia.
EAPO and WIPO Head’s Meetings
A working meeting between EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova and WIPO Director General Francis Gurry was held at WIPO headquarters on June 19, 2020. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss possible ways of interaction that would allow advancing the solution of the issues significant for the EAPO, complicated by the ongoing restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The heads of the EAPO and WIPO discussed the situation regarding the appointment of the EAPO as an ISA/IPEA under the PCT, given the impossibility of holding a PCT Technical Cooperation Committee meeting in the traditional offline format and the procedural complexities involved.
On October 23 and December 9, 2020, the first meetings were held at WIPO headquarters between EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova and WIPO Director General Daren Tang, who took office on October 1, 2020.
New Collaborative Initiatives
Within the reporting year, EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova held a series of working meetings with the heads of WIPO departments to discuss new areas of cooperation between the two Organizations.
On September 22, 2020, at the WIPO headquarters Saule Tlevlessova met with the Executive Director of the WIPO Academy, Sherif Saadallah, to discuss possible partnership to organize summer schools targeting young experts from national IP Offices of the Eurasian region and students of technical universities, i.e. potential employees of national Offices. Such an approach would allow to transfer the WIPO Summer School project from the national to the regional level and cover all EAPC Contracting States.
In the framework of the visit of the EAPO President to the WIPO headquarters from October 19 to 23, 2020, working negotiations were held with the Acting Director of the Department for Transition and Developed Countries Giovanni Napolitano and the Head of the SMEs and Entrepreneurship Support Division Guy Pessach on implementation of the joint project aimed at building capacity of technology parks in the countries of the Eurasian region, promotion of the best practices in providing IP services to its residents.
The initiative to implement a joint project focused on technology parks, high-tech parks, business incubators, innovation centers and other organizations of the Eurasian region innovation support system resulted from a video conference held by WIPO and the EAPO in June, 2020, with the participation of heads of national IP Offices of the EAPC Contracting States.
On June 29, 2020 at the opening of the videoconference "Current Trends and Problems of Commercialization of Intellectual Property in the Countries of the Caucasus, Central Asia and Eastern Europe" the President of the EAPO Saule Tlevlessova and the Director of the WIPO’s Department for Transition and Developed Countries Michal Svantner made opening remarks.
EAPO President welcomed the start of a direct dialogue with technology parks in the Eurasian region, highlighting the role of these institutions in the development of knowledge-intensive, high-tech industries and calling on technology parks to maximize assistance to resident companies in the timely registration of their IP rights. At the same time, Saule Tlevlessova drew attention to the active development of regional and national IP systems and the opportunities provided nowadays for patenting IT-related inventions, noting the capacity of the EAPO to examine applications for these subject matters.
The EAPO representatives informed the participants of the videoconference about the advantages that the Eurasian patent system provides to innovative companies from the EAPC Contracting States, the unitary features of the Eurasian patent and the single procedure for obtaining it, the terms of examination of Eurasian applications relevant to startups working in the field of information and communication technologies, the specifics of drafting and examining such applications.
During the round table the participants of the meeting shared the experience in establishment and development of technology parks, marked the problems faced by technology parks, exchanged information on the results of cooperation between national patent offices and technology parks in the development of IP markets, as well as raising IP awareness.
When summing up the results of the meeting, Saule Tlevlessova noted its importance and promptness and supported the opinions voiced during the discussion about the need to continue the dialogue with technology parks in the Eurasian region and making the respective interactions more practical-oriented.
EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE (EPO)
The progressive cooperation with the EPO, as one of the key partners of the EAPO, for exchange of patent information and experience in the field of patent examination, patent search, opposition examination, and use of digital tools, developed steadily throughout the reporting year.
The interaction between the EAPO and the EPO under the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) was considerably upgraded. Since 2020, the EAPO started to classify retrospective Eurasian patent documents in the CPC.
Cooperation under the PPH program has become permanent. As of October 1, 2020, the partner Offices moved from a pilot to a permanent PPH program.
On February 18, 2020 the EAPO delegation took part in the 7th annual meeting on the CPC issues organized by the EPO and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The EAPO representatives made a presentation and informed the participants of the meeting about the procedure for using the CPC for classification of the currently published Eurasian patent documents in the context of transition to the instant publication of the Eurasian patents. The Office’s experience in adaptation of the internal information systems dealing with classification, quality control of the classified documents and examiners’ training were highlighted as well.
New opportunities of patent information resources of the EAPO were considered within the framework of the EPO’s annual forum "East meets West 2020", which was held on November 23–25, 2020, via videoconference.
In the speech given at the plenary session of the forum the EAPO representative demonstrated new English language interfaces of the Eurasian Publication Server and the Eurasian Patent Register developed by the EAPO in 2020, as well as updated features of these resources enabling to perform in-depth search of information on Eurasian applications and Eurasian patents, including information on changes in their legal status. The new system of instant publication of Eurasian patent documents and information on the changes in their legal status in particular was the focus of attention, as its implementation enabled the EAPO to substantially reduce the average term of preparation of applications and patents for publication.
An upgraded version of the EAPATIS adapted for English-speaking users and including an extended collection of patent documents of the Eurasian region countries in English was revealed to the forum participants as well. Demonstration of various new service functions of the system took place, including the possibility of direct access via EAPATIS to national registers or separate patent documents located on the websites of the national IP Offices of the post-Soviet countries.
The EAPO representative also expanded on other changes in the available Eurasian patent information, including the publication of the Authority file, the new types of notifications concerning filing and examination of oppositions against the grant of Eurasian patent, and answered questions of the forum attendees.
Throughout the reporting year, the EAPO representatives also participated in the EPO international events held via videoconference, including the annual EPO Patent Information Conference (November 3–4, 2020), conference on Examination Matters (November 9–11, 2020), conference on Opposition Matters (October 21–22, 2020), and digital conference on the Role of Patents in an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Driven World (December 17–18, 2020). EAPO examiners advanced their skills through participation in various levels of distance learning courses at the EPO Academy, such as "Assessing Clarity and Unity in Patent Applications" (March 2 – April 30, 2020), "Assessing Novelty and Inventive Step in Patent Applications" (May 4 – June 26, 2020), "Disclosure of Invention, Clarity and Unity" (September 7 – 8, 2020), "Novelty and Inventive Step" (September 10 and 15, 2020), "How to Understand and Draft Search Reports and Written Opinions" (December 1–3, 2020).
EUROPEAN UNION INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE (EUIPO)
The heads of EAPO and EUIPO discussed practical steps for further interaction between the two regional Offices during their annual meeting.
A videoconference with the EUIPO delegation headed by Deputy Executive Director Andrea Di Carlo was held on October 2, 2020. The parties exchanged information on latest developments in their design-related activities and discussed the possibility of implementing the measures stipulated in the bilateral work plan for the current period in remote format.
EAPO President Saule Tlevlessova expressed interest in continuing cooperation in studying the practice of the European Union in the field of legal protection of industrial designs, development of technical tools to support the patent prosecution of industrial designs.
The EUIPO delegation, noting the rapid pace of the EAPO preparation for the launch of operations for the Eurasian design patents, expressed readiness to provide assistance to the EAPO in any operations with industrial designs, in particular, consulting and technical support in integration with the search system DesignView, which will allow to start providing information on registered Eurasian industrial designs immediately after the beginning of the EAPO activity in this area, to implement other digital tools and technologies, used by the EUIPO.
On December 7, 2020, EAPO and EUIPO representatives discussed via videoconference the organizational and technical issues related to EAPO joining the EUIPO "DesignView" project.
The search tool "DesignView" is a free EUIPO information resource, equipped with a Russian language interface and providing access to design information of all partner intellectual property offices (72 national and regional offices).
Participation of the EAPO in the EUIPO "DesignView" project will allow applicants from the Eurasian region and other users of the Eurasian patent system, when filing an application for a Eurasian design patent, to conduct a preliminary search for industrial designs protected both on the territory of the EAPC Contracting States and on the territory of other project member states.
The EAPO representatives learned about the EUIPO practice on substantive and procedural issues of design dispute resolution on the territory of the EU Member States ("IP Case Law Conference" October 15–16, 2020).
AFRICAN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION (OAPI)
On December 8, 2020, a video message of President Tlevlessova featured at the opening of the 60th ordinary session of the Administrative Council of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), which was held in a hybrid format in Lomé, Republic of Togo. Ministers and members of the delegations of 17 OAPI Member States, government representatives and ministers of the Republic of Togo attended the said meeting.
On behalf of EAPO, Saule Tlevlessova welcomed the participants and distinguished guests of the meeting, noting the importance of OAPI activities for the African region. The EAPO President shared information on the EAPO achievements over the last year and expressed her confidence that the partnership between the EAPO and the OAPI will contribute to the enhancement of mutual understanding and convergence of the two regions in the IP field.
On October 29, 2020, the EAPO representative made a presentation in the framework of the training for examiners BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) dealing with applications for industrial designs. The training organized by Rospatent took place via videoconference on October 27-29, 2020.
The participants of the training got acquainted with the EAPO activities aimed at the establishment of a regional system of legal protection for industrial designs in Eurasia, the key features of the system and advantages it provides to the applicant, mechanisms of interaction between the Eurasian system and national patent systems of the EAPC Contracting States.