Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) - Meeting between WIPO and the epi in Munich

S. Liebig, epi Secretariat


On February 24, 2017, a meeting between Mr. Marco Aleman, Director, Patent Law Division, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Mr. Tony Tangena, President of the epi and Mr. Peter Thomsen, Treasurer of the epi, was held in epi's Secretariat in Munich.

Inventor Assistance Program with WIPO

The purpose of such an encounter was to discuss epi's role as a supporter of the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP). The IAP, a WIPO initiative in cooperation with the World Economic Forum (WEF), is the first global program of its kind. The Program aims at matching under-resourced inventors in developing countries with patent attorneys who are willing to assist them, free of charge, in the patent-granting procedure before their national patent office. Patent protection is a powerful legal tool that gives a patent owner the control over who uses his/her invention. Patents can be very valuable but all too often however, inventors and small businesses in the developing world fail to seek and obtain patents as they lack the resources, or specialists' knowledge, that are needed to navigate the system.

As mentioned in issue 4/2016 of the epi Information, the epi is proud to become a supporter of the IAP program. During their first meeting in Munich Mr. Aleman, Mr. Tangena, Mr. Thomsen and Ms. Sadia Liebig, epi Secretariat, the designated person in charge of the IAP within the epi Secretariat, discussed further details with regards to the cooperation between epi and WIPO, in the framework of this project.

Mr. Aleman reported in great detail on the development of the IAP, and provided interesting feedback regarding its implementation in the present participating countries (Colombia, the Philippines and Morocco). WIPO hopes that more developing countries will apply to the IAP program during the year and that it would be extended accordingly.

Mr. Thomsen gave a short introduction on the epi. Emphasis was put on the fact that the epi, with more than 11,700 European patent attorneys constituting its members, provides an ideal target group to recruit volunteers that would be willing to assist selected inventors in developing countries to patent their inventions in Europe. Following the announcement in the epi Information and on the epi website, both parties agreed that further steps should be taken to promote the program in the European region.

epi's members should be aware that providing their services in the framework of the IAP will only require their professional skills and practical support, and will not imply any additional costs. The participating patent attorney works in close collaboration with the inventor/patent applicant, and it is worth mentioning that the latter will bear all of the costs inherent to the filing and prosecuting of the patent application. The patent attorney will benefit from the pro bono work by increasing his/her professional experience and by growing his/her network by making contact with persons who may, down the road, become paying clients as their businesses grow.

During the meeting, organisational matters, such as the possibility of registering via the epi website and the transmission of information to WIPO, were discussed. It was agreed that epi would provide WIPO with further information on future developments and on the progress of the IAP.

Meanwhile, should you be interested in participating in the IAP program as a European patent attorney, please contact the epi Secretariat on the following e-mail addresses: Sadia.Liebig@patentepi.com or Treasurer@patentepi.com.

Further information on the program can also be found on the following WIPO webpage: http://www.wipo.int/iap/en/