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Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP)

The 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.  By dealing with clusters of interlocking issues rather than working on single issues in isolation, the Committee provides member states with a forum for sharing information and working towards the development of the international patent system with an inclusive and coordinated approach.

The Committee is composed of all member states of WIPO and/or the Paris Union. As observers, member states of the UN who are neither WIPO nor Paris Union members, as well as a number of accredited intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations may also attend the sessions of the SCP.

The activities of the SCP are reported to the WIPO General Assembly.  The Committee may also submit its recommendations to the General Assembly for approval.

Delegates in discussion at the SCP
Delegates in discussion at the SCP (Photo: WIPO). More SCP photos on Flickr

Current issues in the SCP

The following five substantive topics are being currently discussed at the SCP:

(Photo: Sdecoret/Gettyimages)

Exceptions and limitations to patent rights

National/regional patent laws usually provide certain exceptions and limitations to patent rights.  The SCP has been discussing several of these, such as those relating to experimental use and scientific research, prior use, acts for obtaining regulatory approval from authorities, and  exhaustion of patent rights.

(Photo: Ipopba/Gettyimages)

Quality of patents, including opposition systems

Patentability criteria and their assessment, as well as various aspects of the patent system relate to the quality of patents. Issues discussed in the SCP include inventive step, sufficiency of disclosure, opposition systems and international work sharing in patent examination. Issues related to AI and the patent system are also addressed in the Committee.

(Photo: Metamorworks/Gettyimages)

Patents and health

The SCP examines the role of the patent system in incentivizing innovation in the health area and issues relating to access to the results of such innovation through, for example, producing studies. The SCP also addresses patent flexibilities and their impact on access to medicines, as well as retrieval of patent information relating to medicines and vaccines from various databases.

(Photo: Iamstocker/iStock/Gettyimages)

Confidentiality of communications between patent advisors and their clients

The SCP has been discussing the question of whether and to what extent confidentiality of communications between a client and his/her patent advisor should be maintained in court proceedings in various jurisdictions and how the confidentiality could be preserved in cross-border cases.

(Photo: Metamorworks/Gettyimages)

Technology transfer

The role of the patent system and its effects on technology transfer are under continuous discussions in the SCP. The Committee has collected, for example, practical examples of patent-related incentives and impediments to transfer of technology from members and observers of the SCP.

Certain Aspects of National/Regional Patent Laws are regularly updated based on input received from Member States.  The summary tables covering the following aspects are available: 

  • prior art; 
  • novelty; 
  • inventive step; 
  • grace period
  • sufficiency of disclosure; 
  • exclusions from patentable subject matter;  and
  • exceptions and limitations to the rights.

Electronic Forum for SCP members and observers

The Electronic Forum enables sharing of information and comments received from members and observers of the SCP.



Following the discussions within the Committee of Experts on the Patent Law Treaty, which had started in 1995, the SCP negotiated the draft Patent Law Treaty (PLT) and its regulations on patent formalities and procedures. The PLT was adopted by the Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of the Patent Law Treaty on June 1, 2000.

Find out more about the PLT.


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.


The main focus of the work of the SCP was on building a technical and legal resource base from which to hold informed discussions in order to develop a work program.  At the twelfth session in 2008, the Report on the International Patent System PDF, Report on the International Patent System 2008, focusing on the economic rationale, legal and organizational aspects as well as policy considerations and development concerns of the patents system, was discussed for the first time and a non-exhaustive list of issues PDF, SCP: non-exhaustive list of issues was identified by the Committee for further elaboration and discussion at its future sessions. A series of documents elaborating various aspects of patent law were produced and discussed at the subsequent sessions of the SCP, including the topics such as standards and patents, dissemination of patent information, exclusions from patentable subject matter and exceptions and limitations to the rights, and opposition systems.