For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Catalogue of Interest: Spot the Difference

This new guest Kat was hoping to find something really exciting to blog about for his first proper post.
A Cat-a-log

He thought he had found it when he read with interest the item posted by the EPO, concerning the Catalogue of Differing Practices, said by the EPO to show the remaining differences in substantive practice between the Trilateral Offices (EPO, USPTO and JPO) as well as KIPO (South Korea) and SIPO (China), and to be an “important milestone”.
Thinking that this sounded jolly useful, and having a particular affinity for Cat-alogues, the Kat investigated further.

The linked report on the Trilateral Office website was rather more muted than the EPO, calling the Catalogue a “tool aimed at identifying the differences” and “a first step towards a reference guide”.

 On coming to the document itself,
the Kat became rather disappointed.  Weighing in at 95 pages, the text is entitled a “Catalogue of Remaining Differences”.  The trouble is that for each “difference”, each office simply describes its own practice in its own terms, leaving the reader to try to work out whether there is in fact a substantive difference or not. 

 Each “difference” in practice of each office is assigned to one (or sometimes more) of four categories, explained at the beginning of the document:  Category I -  an office can change the practice of its own motion; Category II - the difference in practice requires a separate statutory body to be consulted; Category III – the difference in practice requires legislative change; Category IV – the practice arises from judicial decision. However, it is hard to see how this classification is arrived at – with the potentially different practice of 5 offices being compared, what is the comparator against which the difference is being considered?  So this superficially helpful classification leaves the reader little better informed.


It is as though the document is lacking some explanatory portion, but there does not appear to be any further explanation which is readily available. 


The Catalogue is doubtless of great use to those involved in the Trilateral Cooperation and Five IP Offices projects.  Its publication fulfils the promise made at the meeting of the Trilateral Offices in November 2011
.  However, in its current form it appears of limited wider use except as a synoptic statement of the law of five jurisdictions in certain areas.

The IPKat wonders whether anyone at the EPO, the Trilateral Offices or the Five IP Offices has yet taken the next step of summarising what the actual differences are.
Suspecting not, this Kat will offer a reward of the new Edition (19th) of his colleague Derk Visser’s The Annotated European Patent Convention, the seminal commentary on the EPC, to anyone who takes the trouble to read through the 95 pages and explain the differences.  The IPKat would then happily and gratefully post the results for his readers.

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