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23 November 2017

EPO President Benoît Battistelli with SIPO Commissioner Shen Changyu

The EPO and China’s State Intellectual Property Office
(SIPO) have renewed their co-operation by signing a comprehensive strategic
partnership agreement

at their annual heads of office meeting today in Zhengzhou.

EPO President Benoît Battistelli
and SIPO Commissioner Shen Changyu underlined that this unique agreement reinforces a
historic co-operation which goes back more than 30 years. It is the first and
only agreement of such kind signed by both offices with other patent offices.

The comprehensive
strategic partnership sets out the principles for co-operation in areas
such as laws and policies, the patent granting process, user
services and training. It is valid for an unlimited time, and will be
complemented by annual work plans, such as the one for 2018 also signed today
in Zhengzhou.

“The new strategic
agreement signed today is a milestone in the history of our relations with
China,” said EPO President Battistelli. “Thanks to our co-operation, the
European and Chinese patent granting systems now closely resemble each other,
which greatly benefits innovators in both regions. The new agreement will allow
us to explore the vast potential for even closer co-operation, to include new
areas such as artificial intelligence and green technologies, and to continue
to promote the efficient functioning of the global patent

EPO-SIPO relations
date back to the signing of a first memorandum of understanding between the two
offices in 1985, and have since contributed significantly to the development of
the protection of patent rights in China, and to the
strengthening of the patent system at international level.

One of the highlights
of the EPO’s President visit to China was a 50-minute high-level meeting with
State Councillor Wang Yong. The State Councillor outlined the main
challenges ahead for China with respect to intellectual property. He stressed
the importance placed on IP by the Chinese government, in particular since the
recent 19th National Congress, and noted that China’s partnership with the
EPO is very important for the development of the Chinese patent system. He
acknowledged the leading role of the EPO in the quality of the global patent

In meetings with
European and Chinese companies in Beijing, Mr Battistelli outlined the benefits
of EPO-SIPO co-operation for their business, and presented recent developments at
the EPO such as its Early Certainty approach, plans to launch optional
postponement of examination at the request of applicants (“User Driven Early
Certainty”) and the forthcoming fee reductions. In all these discussions, the
EPO President stressed that the main aim of both the EPO and SIPO is to
maintain and even increase the quality of their patent-granting procedures. Industry
participants praised the continuous positive results achieved by the EPO in the
implementation of its quality and efficiency strategy, and encouraged the EPO
to further develop its fruitful co-operation with the SIPO.

Rapid growth in
patent applications from China

China is a leading
country of origin for patent applications at the EPO (6th largest
country of origin), and applications from China have grown rapidly in recent
years (+25% in 2016). With Huawei (no. 2) and ZTE (no.22), two Chinese
companies were among the most active patent filing companies at the EPO last

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