Wednesday 4 October 2017


Two Patent Collaboration Initiatives - WIPO & IFPMA and the EPO & Africa IP Offices

WIPO and IFPMA have teamed up on a project that is due to revolutionise access to information on patent protection scope related to healthcare. Their announcement yesterday explains:

Pat-INFORMED will clearly link public patent information to registered medicines in a new online global gateway, helping health professionals to navigate the medicine-procurement process for the benefit of their citizens. 

“Pat-INFORMED will make it easier for procurement experts to assess the patent status of medicines, underlining how a well-designed and implemented patent system incentivizes innovation while making available and accessible key information about patented inventions,” said WIPO's Mr. Gurry. “I welcome the engagement of IFPMA and its membership in this initiative, which responds to real needs in the public health community.”

The online initiative is expected to be operational by mid-2018 and will provide patent information for small molecule products within oncology; hepatitis C, cardiovascular, HIV, diabetes, and respiratory therapy areas; and any products on the WHO Essential Medicines List that are not within these therapy areas.

Access to this type of information will be critical for Africa and hopefully will spur on our own innovation and patenting rate, which is dismally poor. Law firm Adams & Adams in conjunction with the EPO recently held a very well attended Patent Examination Summit. The invitation was extended to the heads of IP offices throughout Africa.

Inaugural Africa Patent Examination Summit attendees (source: Adams & Adams)

Adams & Adams Partners Danie Dohmen described the meeting as a platform for an “honest and open discussion between the Registrars, regional organisations and the EPO” in assessing the status of patent examination in Africa and prospects for future co-operation. 

Mr François-Régis Hannart, Principal Director for European and International Co-operation at the EPO, stated: “It is evident that the worldwide patent system is becoming more connected and integrated as a result of globalisation, and that Africa will play an important role in this system. This meeting offered a valuable platform for forging new partnerships in the region, both bilateral and multilateral, thereby strengthening the ties between Europe and Africa even further.”

Both of the initiatives are very encouraging. Nicky Garnett of Adams & Adams explained that their joint initiative with the EPO is an inaugural event which bodes well for future patent examination on the continent. It is also positive that law firms are becoming engaged in facilitating structural changes on the continent.



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