The annual IP5 heads of office meeting was held on 14 June 2018, in New Orleans USA, in which the five largest patent offices (IP5) met to discuss ongoing inter-office cooperation to improve and harmonize worldwide standards of patent examination.  

The participating offices were the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO).  Together these offices handle approximately 80% of the world's patent applications. 

Of note this year is the consideration, by the IP5, of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  At the meeting, it was reaffirmed that the impact of AI is one of the main strategic priorities of the IP5.  

While improvements and efficiencies continue to be made to the patent system worldwide, applicants often find themselves frustrated by the sometimes inconsistent approach to examination, and perceived inefficiencies within each office.  As AI technologies continue to improve, one can be hopeful that adoption into tools used for patent examination will be advantageous to every office of the IP5.  For example, any improvements to, and harmonization of, how prior art is categorised, searched and machine translated would be very welcome.