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Group B+ work on substantive patent law harmonization

From: Canadian Intellectual Property Office

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office is a member of the Group B+, as part of our mission to help business compete globally through international cooperation and the promotion of Canada's IP interests.

What is the Group B+?

The Group B+ was established in 2005. Its objective is to promote and facilitate progress on key issues under consideration at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Currently, its primary focus is the international harmonization of substantive patent law.


The Group B+ is chaired by Ms. Patricia Kelly, Director General of IP Australia. Its members include Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States, South Korea, European Union member states, the European Commission, European Patent Office (EPO) member states, and the EPO.


WIPO has been host to patent law harmonization talks for over 30 years. Meetings were held at WIPO between 1985 and 1991 in an effort to develop a patent law harmonization treaty. In the 1990s, harmonization efforts turned to patent administrative issues and led, in 2000, to the adoption of the Patent Law Treaty (PLT).

In November 2000, the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) resumed work on the development of a substantive patent law harmonization treaty. To promote and facilitate progress on key issues under consideration at the SCP, the Group B+ was established in 2005. Several rounds of discussions and consultations were held in the following years. Members of the Industry were included in some of these discussions and their input has had a significant impact over the work performed. These discussions led to the creation of a Group B+ sub-group in 2014 to further advance work on select topics.

In June 2015, the Group B+ sub-group published a paper setting out objectives and principles guiding the harmonization of substantive patent law (the Objectives and Principles Paper). CIPO published and consulted on the same paper between January 19 and March 23, 2016.

In October 2015 four workstreams within the Group B+ sub-group were established to explore:

  • non-prejudicial disclosures/grace period (including relationship with third party rights);
  • conflicting applications;
  • prior user rights issues (outside of the grace period); and
  • options for implementation.

The workstreams were tasked with studying the issues in detail, narrowing the gaps on substantive issues and analyzing how any conclusions could be implemented. In May 2016 each workstream produced a report outlining their findings. The workstream reports are available on the EPO Group B+ Page linked below.

Next steps

The sub-group is focused on the following issues: non-prejudicial disclosures / grace period, conflicting applications, and prior user rights. The sub-group will continue to meet and to involve members of the Industry in order to make progress on these issues.

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