International organisations, trilateral and IP5 co-operation
The EPO is involved in a range of multilateral co-operation activities.
In 1983, the Trilateral Cooperation was set up by the EPO, JPO and USPTO - the three largest offices at the time - to look into ways of solving common automation problems. Thirty years on, co-operation activities continue apace, and now include areas such as documentation, data standards and patent information.
The heads of the Trilateral Offices meet annually to decide on strategy and review progress.
In 2007, the combination of the emergence of two major new players - China and Korea - with the continuing rise in patent applications and the ensuing effect on backlogs led to the formation of the "IP5": the three Trilateral Offices plus the patent offices of the People's Republic of China (SIPO) and South Korea (KIPO).
The focus of the IP5 activities is on work-sharing, and ways of avoiding the unnecessary duplication of work.
As with the Trilateral Cooperation, the heads of the IP5 Offices meet annually to decide on strategy and review progress.
WIPO - the World Intellectual Property Organization - is a permanent observer at Trilateral and IP5 meetings and a long-standing strategic partner of the EPO. Co-operation activities between WIPO and the EPO include the fully electronic exchange of PCT documents and the enhanced digital exchange of patent information products.
We also work closely with European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the EU agency responsible for registering trade marks and designs, to raise awareness of IP rights and improve services to businesses using Europe's IP systems.