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Memorandum of V4 Industrial Property/Patent Offices

Cedzyna, September 18–20, 2004

Cedzyna, 18–20 September 2004

This meeting was the 14th of the series of the traditional annual meetings of the presidents of the industrial property offices of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Poland and the Slovak Republic. The list of participants is attached to this Memorandum.The delegations exchanged information and opinions on the approved agenda attached to this document.The meeting was opened and chaired by the President of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland—Dr. Alicja Adamczak.
I. Exchange of views on the main agenda items of the LX series of sessions of the WIPO Assemblies
1. Reform of the PCT
The delegations shared the opinion that simplification of the patent system and strengthening of the international phase are very important issues and they supported the ongoing works on the PCT reform.

As regards the proposed readjustment of the PCT international filing fee all the delegations fully supported the saving approach and refused to accept any increase in that fee.

The delegation of Hungary stated additionally that it found that issue sensitive and called for a careful approach to it. The delegation suggested that we should have a scenario prepared in case if the EU Member States would have failed to reach a unanimous agreement on that issue and consequently the EU's Presidency would not speak on their behalf against the proposed readjustment. The delegation proposed to consider whether the delegations would be ready to work out their own common position and common policy within the regional group in respect of this issue and present it at the plenary session of the WIPO Assemblies as a common position of the group. The Hungarian delegation indicated that an alternative approach to this would be that, lacking a common position of the EU, the V4 group could remain silent in the debate letting other powerful delegations (e.g. that of US) openly oppose the increase in the PCT fees. This would amount to a silent support for those opposing the fee readjustment.

It was an agreement among the delegations to consider these proposals and come back to the issue during our meeting in Geneva.

The Slovak delegation informed the Group that a meeting was intended to be organized on Monday 27 September in the Slovak Permanent Mission in Geneva and invited the other delegations to participate in it. At that meeting the delegations would be briefed on the outcome of the discussions between WIPO's Director General—Kamil Idris—and the ambassadors of certain countries on some of the issues appearing on the agenda of the Assemblies' sessions.
All the delegations appreciated the efforts to continue with the works of SCP on SPLT. They agreed on the continuation of the works along the trilateral (US, Japanese and EPO's) proposal on the basis of a limited package. Although there were some doubts expressed whether the disclosure requirement should be included in the package, the delegations felt that in order for these works to go on successfully, the developed countries have to make concrete substantive concessions in favor of the developing countries, and the disclosure requirement could be one of such concessions.
3–5. TLT, Internet domain names and certification of priority documents
Next, the delegations exchanged information and opinions on certain other issues to be discussed during the forthcoming series of sessions of the WIPO Assemblies. The delegations confirmed that they had no problems with these issues, therefore there was no need of discussing them in detail.
6. Experiences with obtaining data concerning the international trademarks from WIPO
The delegations exchanged information on their experiences with obtaining data from WIPO and on recent developments in respect of technical improvements in using the WIPO's databases in their Offices. The delegations also signalled some technical problems encountered in using these databases.
7. Strategy debate on PCT cooperation in Europe
The delegations exchanged their views on the strategy debate on PCT cooperation in Europe.
They shared the opinion that all the countries should be treated on the same footing and consequently the Administrative Council's decision concerning the restrictions on that account, introduced when the last of the EPC acceding states were invited, should be revised or, at least, reinterpreted by the Administrative Council. At the same time they recognised the primacy of the European Patent Office as a patent granting authority.
The delegation of Hungary provided other delegations with the extensive information on the strategy issues recently discussed by the Board of the Administrative Council. It presented possible models of the strategy solution considered by the Board, their advantages and disadvantages. The delegation commented on them and suggested that the choice between the different models and any adjustment thereof should reflect the needs and interests of our Offices as well as their users. The Hungarian delegation suggested that during a next day's meeting with Ms. Alison Brimelow - President Elect of the EPO, a Group's common position on that issue be presented. The delegations came to the conclusion that they took the same position in respect of the following issues:

  • they welcomed the strategy debate on PCT cooperation in Europe and recognised it as being of great importance for each of our countries,
  • in order for the November Administrative Council's meeting to produce tangible results, a political commitment to follow one of the models of the system should be reached, however historical privileges should not be maintained,
  • it was important for some national Offices to maintain a critical mass and capacities necessary to meet the needs of their users
  • EPO's central role should be maintained,
  • any kind of decentralization should, by no means, result in the deterioration of the quality of the patent granted by the EPO.

That common position was presented by the delegation of Poland, on behalf of the whole Group, at the meeting with Ms. Alison Brimelow on 19 September. During the meeting Ms. Brimelow made comments on that position and the issues tackled in it, and admitted that what mattered, it was the openness and honesty between the partners during the debate. She also commented on the present EPO's policy in respect of the strategy debate and shared the Group's opinion that the discussion on that issue should not be deferred in time. In the course of the discussions with Ms. Brimelow the delegations sought her opinion on such issues as confidence building measures, EPO's Academy, software patenting, Community patent, London Agreement and EPLA.

The discussion was found as extremely constructive and promising for the Group.
II. Overview of the current legislative proposals in the European Union
1. Community patent
The delegations stated that in the present state of play on that issue there was no new development to be discussed.
2. Draft directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions
The delegations informed each other on their position in respect of the "software" directive.
The delegations of the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and Hungary expressed their positive opinion on the text of the directive as approved by the Council of Competitiveness considering that it served the purpose of preserving the status quo and freezing the EPO's practice in patenting software-related inventions. The delegations of Poland introduced some reservations in respect of it.
3. Implementation of the EU's newly adopted Enforcement Directive
The delegations exchanged information on the measures taken with a purpose to implementing the new Enforcement Directive in their countries.
4. Design protection of component parts
The delegations presented their positions on a European Commission's proposal for amending Article 14 of the Designs Directive in respect of component parts of a complex product - so-called repair clause.
The delegations of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovak Republic expressed their strong opposition against that proposal, while the delegation of Hungary informed that in the Hungarian law a repair clause already existed but it was applied in a different way. That is why that Hungary was neither in a position to unconditionally support the proposed amendment of Article 14. The Hungarian delegation was also of the view that the debate on the repair clause was opened by the Commission too early, at a very premature stage. It also stressed that Hungary was not willing to force, or to assist in forcing, the other Visegrad Countries to accept a repair clause that they would find detrimental to their interests.
5. IPR-related transitional arrangements for the EU's enlargement (pending issues) and experiences with interaction between the Community Trademarks and the national environment
The delegations exchanged information on the activities undertaken within the framework of the transitional arrangements in respect of the Community Trademark and geographical indications.
The delegation of Hungary informed on some legal problems with the interpretation of the provisions of the CTM Regulation governing conversion and seniority and on the differences on that interpretation between Hungary and the OHIM. The delegation made available to other delegation a copy of the letter addressed to the OHIM in which Hungary presented its views and position in that regard and sought clarification of the transitional issues related to the EU's enlargement.

The delegation of Poland shared many of the opinions expressed by the Hungarian delegation and declared to carefully consider the issues raised in the Hungarian letter and in case it found to be of the same opinion in respect of the interpretation of the CTM Regulation, it would support Hungary in its efforts before the OHIM.
III. Cooperation within the framework of OHIM
Search possibilities offered by the OHIM, experiences with the practice
The delegations exchanged information on their experiences with using search possibilities offered by the OHIM. They also informed on the activities undertaken in their Offices in order to develop and improve their Office's technical and human capabilities for carrying trademark searches.
IV. Cooperation within the framework of EPO
1. Experiences with the bilateral and multilateral cooperation programs
The delegations exchanged information on the activities undertaken within the framework of the bilateral and multilateral cooperation programs and shared their experiences with their implementation.
2. Implementation of Toolbox-EPTOS automation services
The delegations briefed each other on the current status of the process of implementation of Toolbox-EPTOS automation services in their Offices and further activities planned to be undertaken in order to make the services operational.
3. Establishment of the Academy of the European Patent Organization
The delegations expressed their support for the project of establishing the Academy which would be of benefit for all the users of IPR system. They stressed that the national contribution to the project should rely not only on the Offices but on patent attorneys, universities and other users of the system as well.
The Hungarian delegation proposed that, considering the experience of the Czech Republic in training programs, the Group be represented in the Supervisory Board of the EPO Academy by the Czech delegation. The proposal was accepted unanimously and the President of the Industrial Property Office of the Czech Republic agreed on taking that function.
V. Proposed cooperation with BBM (at the BBM's initiative)
Scope and forms of possible cooperation between BBM and the Visegrad Group Countries
The Polish delegation informed other delegations that it had been approached by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and advised on the BBM's initiative to establish cooperation between the Bureau and the Visegrad Group, and its request for the Group to suggest a possible scope and forms of such cooperation. The Czech delegation informed that it was as well approached by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs on that issue. The Slovak and Hungarian delegations informed that they had not received any information on such initiative neither from the BBM itself nor from their Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
The delegations stressed that they were open to any kind of cooperation; nevertheless they would prefer first learn from the BBM more of what was its idea and vision of such cooperation and only then the Group could express its position as to whether or not it was interested in cooperating with the BBM.
The delegation of Poland informed of its intention to submit that request to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Group.
VI. Other issues
1. Cooperation mechanisms between NPOs and national governments in Brussels policy-making processes
The delegations exchanged information on cooperation mechanisms between NPOs and national governments in Brussels policy-making processes, existing in their countries.
2. Changes in national legislation for making possible electronic filings
The delegations of the Czech Republic informed that their Offices had already started receiving applications in electronic form, while the delegation of Poland informed about ongoing activities including technical ones to receiving electronic filings; from the legal point of view appropriate amendments to the act - Industrial Property Law and other relevant regulations had to be adopted.. The Hungarian delegation indicated that it was in a similar position. The legislative framework for e-filing is almost complete but for reasons related to the safety of its internal IT network the HPO will only be in a position to introduce e-filing at about the end of 2005. The Slovak delegation informed other delegations that it amended the IP legislation to facilitate the e-filings.

The delegations agreed that the meeting was useful and informative and declared their will to continue with Visegrad Group's meetings in future. All the guest delegations expressed their gratefulness, and high appreciation of, the high quality work of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland in preparing and organising the meeting.

The delegations accepted the invitation of the President of the Hungarian Patent Office, Dr.Miklos Bendzsel, to host the next round of the discussions next year in Hungary.

Done in four originals in the English language.

Cedzyna, 20 September 2004.

Karel ČADA




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