In the face of continual growth in the number of patent filings and pending applications at many patent offices across the world, the five largest patent offices from South Korea, Europe, the United States, Japan and China created a comprehensive cooperation framework that is currently widely known as the "IP5" in 2007 to work together to promote efficiency and quality of patent examination at the member offices under collaborative work-sharing projects and ensure stability of patent rights across their respective territories

IP5 vision

After the first active ten years of cooperation, the IP5 Heads of Office met in Valletta, Malta on 1 June 2017 to take stock of achievements to date and redirect future initiatives to be in alignment with changing user needs and evolving global patent landscape. Desiring to expand the focus of their cooperation towards creating a modern patent prosecution environment for the benefit of all stake holders, the IP5 their vision to read:

"Patent harmonization of practices and procedures, enhanced work-sharing, high-quality and timely search and examination results, and seamless access to patent information to promote an efficient, cost-effective and user-friendly international patent landscape."

Areas of Activity

The IP5 Offices together now handle about 85 per cent of the world's patent applications, and 86 per cent of all work carried out under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). We have continuously made concerted efforts to harmonize the search and examination environment at each office for the sake of both higher operational efficiency and user convenience; standardize information-sharing process and promote easy access to and use of patent information; and deliver high-quality and reliable search and examination products and services to stakeholders. These topics and targeted projects thereunder are systematically managed by separate Working Groups (WGs) and dedicated IP5 expert groups.

Working Group 1 on Classification

WG1 works on harmonizing the IP5's classification practices in both the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) and FI (File Indexing) schemes; and keeping classification schemes up-to-date that match fast evolving technologies.

Working Group 2 on Information Technology and Global Dossier

WG2 focuses on developing and managing data sharing instruments for the IP5 that ensure effective and timely exchange and retrieval of patent data and information, such as Global Dossier (GD), One Portal Dossier (OPD), Common Citation Document (CCD); and on collaborating on the subjects of machine translation and application of advanced technologies, notably Artificial Intelligence, into patent administration.

Working Group 3 on Work-sharing and Quality

Enabled and facilitated by a strong and successful international framework, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), WG3 makes efforts to develop and manage various IP5-wide work-sharing projects, such as the Collaborative Search Program (CSP), IP5 Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), and PCT Collaborative Search and Examination (CS&E) (pilot program expired), that allow participating offices to leverage the work previously done by the other office to help applicants obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently. This group also works to harmonize patent laws ("Patent Harmonization Expert Panel, PHEP") and enhance quality of examination products and services ("Quality Management Meeting").

Internal and External Engagement

The IP5 values open communication with users and stakeholders of the IP system, including other patent offices, and tries our best to attend to the views and needs of industry, public users, and other patent offices. It is in the same context that the five patent offices' leaders meet regularly with representatives of Industry from the five regions on the occasion of the annual IP5 Heads of Office Meeting. In 2016, the IP5 has established a dedicated forum, the Industry Consultation Group (ICG) to ensure the IP5 cooperation continues to develop in line with users' expectations and needs. The IP5 also always ensures World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is involved as observer in all levels of IP5 meetings and discourse.

It is always true that skilled and motivated examiners are a core asset for any patent offices, but this is truly the case for implementing work-sharing activities. Knowing their active participation is key to success of collaborative projects, the IP5 works hard together to create opportunities for examiners, such as workshops or mutual visiting, so that they can stay motivated about taking part in the IP5 initiatives and have chances to learn best practices shared by their counterparts working at other offices.

  • Last updated 18 February 2021
  • International Cooperation Division