Standing Committee on the Law of Patents
The Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) was created in 1998 to serve as a forum to discuss issues, facilitate coordination and provide guidance concerning the progressive international development of patent law. The Committee is composed by all Member States of WIPO and/or of the Paris Union, and, as observers, certain Member States of the UN non-members of WIPO and/or Paris Union, as well as a number of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
The main achievement of the SCP in the recent past was the negotiation of the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) and its Regulations on patent formalities and procedures. The PLT was adopted by a Diplomatic Conference on June 1, 2000 and entered into force on April 28, 2005.
Discussions on the draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) started at the fifth session of the SCP in May 2001. While discussions on the draft SPLT led to some agreement in principle among delegations on a number of issues, other topics have generated more difficulties in terms of reaching agreement. As a result, the SPLT negotiations were put on hold in 2006, as the Committee decided that it was premature to establish a work program for the SCP. The work of the SCP was resumed in June 2008 by convening the twelfth session of the SCP. The main focus of the work of the Committee since that session has been on building a technical and legal resource base from which to hold informed discussions in order to develop a work program. Therefore, a series of documents elaborating various aspects of patent law were produced and discussed at the subsequent sessions of the SCP.
In particular, at the twelfth session, the Report on the International Patent System was discussed for the first time and a non-exhaustive list of issues was identified by the Committee for further elaboration and discussion at its future sessions. At its thirteenth session, the SCP discussed preliminary studies on the following issues: (i) dissemination of patent information; (ii) exclusions from patentable subject matter and exceptions and limitations to the rights; (iii) standards and patents; and (iv) client-attorney privilege.
At its fourteenth session, the SCP discussed preliminary studies on the following issues: (i) technical solutions to improve greater access to, and dissemination of, patent information; (ii) the client-patent advisor privilege; (iii) transfer of technology and (iv) opposition systems.
At its fifteenth session, in addition to the above preliminary studies, the SCP discussed a study prepared by external experts on exclusions from patentable subject matter and exceptions and limitations to the rights as well as a proposal by the Delegation of Brazil on exceptions and limitations to patent rights. At that same session, the SCP agreed to include a number of substantive issues relating to patent law and practice in the future work of the Committee. In particular, the agenda of the sixteenth session of the SCP included the following issues: (i) exceptions and limitations to patent rights; (ii) quality of patents, including opposition systems; (iii) patents and health; (iv) confidentiality of communications between clients and their patent advisors; and (v) transfer of technology. The seventeenth session of the SCP, to be held from December 5 to 9, 2011, will continue discussing the above five topics.
In addition, following a recommendation by the SCP, a Conference on Intellectual Property and Public Policy Issues was held in July 2009, in Geneva, which provided a platform for an exchange of views on issues such as the environment, climate change, public health and food security, and for a better understanding of how the patent system and innovation can contribute to resolving some of the current global challenges of the world.