The Vancouver Group - Areas of Focus

Mutual Exploitation

The priority of the Vancouver Group is to investigate reducing duplication of patents-related work between the offices.

The Vancouver Group Mutual Exploitation initiative is the Vancouver Group's approach to eliminating unnecessary rework and duplication in prosecuting patent applications.

Mutual Exploitation Principles

The Vancouver Group Mutual Exploitation initiative is supported by eight principles:

  1. The core principle is that a Vancouver Group Office (VGO) will, where possible, rely on any patent granted by another VGO or on the search and examination performed by another VGO resulting in an issued search and examination report for an equivalent application. A VGO may perform further search and examination if it deems further work necessary.
  2. This core principle will be applied in an "Office-driven" manner - i.e. Offices will rely on earlier work without the need for applicants to ask them to do so.
  3. The core principle will also be applied transparently. Where earlier work by another Office is relied on, the later Office will note this on their file and in the report to the applicant. Where the later Office deems it necessary to do further work, it will note this on their file, together with an explanation of why the further work is thought necessary. To maintain confidence in VGO reports, feedback will be provided by the later Office to the earlier Office, where appropriate.
  4. The core principle will apply to all work done by a VGO, whether for purposes of determining patentability in its own jurisdiction or that of another jurisdiction for which such work is performed by the office and irrespective of where the application was first filed.
  5. Where one VGO issues an office action indicating at least one claim is allowable or granted a patent in relation to an application, the applicant will be able to apply to the other VGOs for accelerated examination of a related application.
  6. The procedures and requirements for accelerated examination will be:
    • as simple and efficient as possible; and
    • consistent with other arrangements already in place within Offices for accelerated examination, [such as the Patent Prosecution Highway].
  7. Examiners will have ready access to the work of another VGO. It is intended that an enabling platform will be provided using WIPO infrastructure. Offices will:
    • work with WIPO to develop and implement this platform as quickly as possible; and
    • advocate ongoing enhancement and use of this enabling platform to other IP offices to facilitate greater work sharing.
  8. Offices will support ongoing examiner interaction that enhances mutual understanding, seeks to minimise variability and promotes greater confidence in one another's work. In particular:
    • Offices agree that it would be useful for a periodic independent quality review of each other's work by the VGOs;
    • Offices, and the outcomes they are seeking to achieve, would benefit from documenting and sharing of respective search strategies; and
    • Offices will share experiences and information on using EPOQUE.Net, and advocate similar exchanges with other EPOQUE.Net users.

The Offices have held patent examiner exchanges, which have found that the Vancouver Group Offices were able to benefit from each other's search and examination work.

Technology to Support Mutual Exploitation

An important part of the Vancouver Group Mutual Exploitation initiative is the development of an IT system to allow examiners to easily access documents from a participating Office.

In partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the Vancouver Group will deliver a system called Centralised Access to Search and Examination (CASE).

CASE will be a digital library of search and examination reports that will be accessible through existing WIPO technical infrastructure. The long term benefits of CASE are expected to be:

  • improved transparency and quality of work;
  • centralised access to search and examination reports from multiple jurisdictions;
  • minimal duplication of work through the use of common WIPO standards; and
  • voluntary participation.

In early 2011 CASE will be tested by the Vancouver Group Offices. Additional information on the future development of CASE will be published throughout 2011.

A presentation and a document from September 2010 outlining the activities of the Vancouver Group and collaboration with WIPO is available for download.

Business Performance Reporting

The Business Performance Reporting initiative aims to encourage the sharing of experiences and approaches on the collection, analysis and use of business performance measures. Members believe it is important to measure their performance as this can assist executive and management teams to make timely and informed decisions. It is also good business practice to benchmark against comparable organizations. This information allows for prudent management of organizational and strategic objectives.

Trade Marks Business Processes

The Trade Marks Business Processes initiative is engaging members to share information on strategies and approaches to redeveloping trade mark processes and systems.

Economic Research

The Economic Research initiative provides good opportunities to increase the sharing of current thinking and information on conducting research and analysis of the economic value of IP.