The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) Joint Committee will be meeting 17-21 June 2013 in Cairns, Australia. A key topic to be covered is the “Regional Patent Examination Training programme (RPET),” launched in April 2013. The RPET project is one of the economic cooperation activities underway to increase and facilitate business utilization of the AANZFTA. This significant AANZFTA  Economic Co-operation Work Programme (ECWP) provides patent offices from ASEAN Member States a unique educational training opportunity.

RPET is a comprehensive patent examination training programme that uses e-learning technology to enable remote and real-time delivery of training to participants in different countries.  The curriculum is based on Australia’s existing competency-based patent training program and focuses on search and examination under the Patent Cooperation Treaty  (PCT).

Mr Adnan Jaafar, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam, and co-Chair of the AANZFTA Joint Committee congratulated the AANZFTA IP Committee and Australian Government agency, IP Australia , on the launch of RPET.  “This programme marks an important step towards encouraging innovation and stimulating higher quality investments into the region, and in this regard, I welcome the efforts of the IP Committee and IP Australia towards enhancing cooperation in this area which will positively impact our economies,” he said.

“Development of strong intellectual property systems throughout our region is an important foundation for international trade that the AANZFTA aims to foster and develop,” added Mr Michael Mugliston, Special Negotiator, Free Trade Agreement Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia, and co-Chair of the FTA Joint Committee.  “It is through these economic cooperation and capacity building efforts between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand that the commercial, trade and development benefits of AANZFTA can be realised.”

Patent examiners from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are participating in the inaugural RPET programme.  They will experience a level of training comparable to that received by their Australian counterparts and, ultimately, be able to consistently meet world standards of examination.  The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is also supporting the participation of two African examiners in the programme.

The AANZFTA is a comprehensive trade agreement that covers all sectors and is the most comprehensive agreement that ASEAN has negotiated to date.  The ECWP helps to implement the AANZFTA and is funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.