Originally published in IAM Media.
Improving electronic interactivity has been a high priority for the Russian Patent and Trademark Office (Rospatent) in recent years, especially since the launch of the Digital Economy Programme in 2018. This long-term initiative aims to revolutionise the country’s IT infrastructure, enabling the widespread, efficient and secure receipt, transmission, processing and storage of electronic data by all levels of government bodies by 2024.
Even before the launch of the programme, Rospatent had introduced electronic filing, which has been gaining popularity among applicants ever since. Beyond its obvious advantages, this method also reduces fees – from those connected with filing and prosecution to those associated with registration and publication – by 30%.
Rospatent is now also focused on transitioning to electronic document management, increasing the array of global patent information available online, fully automating the formal application examination process and generally expanding and improving the range and quality of its digital service.
Other key plans on the horizon include the following.
Utilising blockchain technology
The programme will improve the management of IP rights through the use of blockchain technology. A blockchain is a distributed database in which storage devices are not connected to a common server. It stores an ever-growing list of ordered records called blocks; each block contains a time stamp and a link to the previous block.
For the moment, the seller and purchaser of rights enter into an agreement, fill out a special application form and send it to Rospatent for registration, which then reviews and verifies the documents and makes a decision. Rospatent wants to use blockchain technology to make the verification process more efficient and convenient. All necessary checks can be performed on the blockchain before submission, with information about them stored there. The application can also be generated on the blockchain network and sent to Rospatent directly.
Supporting 3D models
The programme also includes provisions to amend the Civil Code to support the submission of 3D models of intellectual property. In August 2019, the government submitted a bill to the State Duma that will give patent applicants the option to attach 3D models of objects such as inventions, utility models, industrial designs and trademarks to their online application form.
According to the head of Rospatent, the technical capabilities required to support the bill are already in place and the office is fully prepared to issue patents in electronic form. It would use recognition algorithms to compare submitted 3D models with similar objects in the IP Register. This system for comparing 3D models of claimed objects is already being tested in 10 engineering centres.
The STEP format (a set of commands allowing an applicant to clearly display the 3D model) will likely be used as the basic internal file format of 3D models due to the elaboration of its international standard (ISO 10 303−21). Three-dimensional models provided by the applicant will be used only to examine the claimed objects and will not be published in the state register.
According to the developers of the bill, the changes will simplify and expedite the substantive examination stage of prosecution by allowing the use of AI in the analysis of application materials.
The use of 3D models at the examination stage of IP applications also holds the promise of more accurately reflecting the essence of a claimed object. Often, the difference between a claimed object and a known one is nuanced and difficult to observe in a 2D format. Three-dimensional models will be especially useful when it comes to devices, trademarks and industrial designs.
The adoption of new digital opportunities by Rospatent should significantly expedite prosecutions and simplify IP rights management in Russia.