The 32nd Session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents SCP/32 was held on 7 to 10 December 2020 as a hybrid meeting. Observers were only invited to attend remotely. Kim Finnilä followed the meeting on behalf of FICPI. 

Director General Daren Tang welcomed the participants and introduced some of the main topics on the agenda of the meeting: (i) information on the international patent system; (ii) quality of patents; (iii) transfer of technology in health technologies and facilitating access to medicines; (iv) the role of the patent system and its effect on transfer of technology as well as (v) preserving the confidentiality of advice from patent advisors, particularly in cross-border cases.


Mr. Leopoldo Belda Soriano (ES) was elected Chair of the SCP and Mr. Tanyaradzwa Manhombo (Z) and Mr. Francisco Astudillo Gómez (VE) were elected Vice-Chairs.
The meeting was inevitably somewhat less lively than usual, since almost all participants attended remotely, however it was conducted in a very constructive manner.

In the opening statements the representative of Group B+ noted that for the confidentiality of advice from patent advisors, a soft-law would be suitable in this connection. There were some supporting statements, also from the observers.

Under the topic of exceptions and limitations to patent rights, the Secretariat had compiled a very interesting draft reference document on prior use (SCP/32/3) with an annex on various legal provisions on the exception regarding prior use (SCP/32/3/ Appendix). This was only briefly discussed.

The focus of the discussion on quality of patents was on the use of AI in patent offices (SCP/32/4). The discussion was continued during a sharing session on patentability issues relating to artificial intelligence, including a very comprehensive presentation by the EPO. WIPO (WIPO AI) was seen to be a convener bridging the information gap between regulators, AI players and Offices.


This topic also raised concerns on sufficiency of disclosure.

An interesting ingredient in the discussion on patents and health was an introduction of a register on patented drugs provided by the Canadian patent office. The register is in the form of a downloadable database and can be updated by innovators. Russia is planning to introduce something similar.

On a general level, the Covid-19 pandemic gave a very positive tone to the discussions, particularly in view of access to medicines.

The Japan Patent Attorneys Association (JPAA) informed the meeting that in the midst of this pandemic, various companies and institutions, including for example, Toyota Motor Corporation, etc. have declared that they will not exercise patent rights, utility model rights, design rights, or copyrights for acts whose sole purpose is to develop technology that will be used to help end the spread of the new coronavirus infection (Covid-19). The declaration is titled: "OPEN COVID-19 DECLARATION". It will remain in effect until the day when the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the spread of the Covid-19. 

The Chair concluded the meeting by presenting a summary of the meeting and future work can be found here. Discussions on the above topics will be continued.

The next meeting SCP/33 has not yet been scheduled.

FICPI’s view and involvement 

FICPI combines education and advocacy on topics around patents and trade marks and regular meetings with IP Offices around the world helps to ensure members' views and represented and that Offices have a good understanding of independent IP attorneys' work. 

Next steps 

Find out more about FICPI's work on international patent matters through its CET 3 Study & Work Committee.


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