Knowledge and learning

European Patent Academy

The European Patent Academy supports innovation in Europe by promoting and participating in education and training events for industry and patent system users and others.

In Milan in July, the Academy helped to run "Growing Business with IP", a two-day event with a hundred participants at which industry experts spoke about a range of intellectual property (IP) management, enforcement and brand building issues; and in The Hague in September, the annual two-day "Search Matters" seminar demonstrated EPO expertise in patent search tools and techniques to an audience of over 200 patent search professionals from industry.

In November, the Academy and the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) jointly organised the Third Venice Judges' Forum, an annual conference which has evolved into a think tank at which around thirty of Europe's most experienced IP judges meet to exchange experiences and make proposals which help to mould the future legal framework for IP litigation in Europe.

The most notable public events were two international conferences, both held in Venice: "Patent Statistics for Policy Decision Making" in October, co-organised with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and attended by experts, statisticians and analysts working in the fields of innovation, patents and science and technology; and "Managing, Financing and Protecting Innovation" in November, mainly targeted at managers in business, finance and administration.

In the course of the year the Academy was a key partner in the European Commission's "ip4inno" project, which is creating a set of training modules for business advisers and technology transfer officers on a range of IP commercialisation and management topics. The project's partner institutions are now using these modules at over forty training sessions across Europe with audiences which will go on to teach other consultants and small firms about the strategic use of IP in business.

The Innovation Support Training Programme, designed to help the national offices to strengthen their role as supporters of national and regional industries in the field of innovation and IP management, was continued with the successful implementation of four modules: "Enforcing and challenging IPRs", "Strategic use of IP", "Innovation & IP management", and "Financing of innovation and network building".

In 2007 the Academy initiated a series of roving workshops held in co-operation with national offices with a view to laying the foundations for IP awareness in the academic environment. The workshops attract as many as a hundred universities and other academic institutions, and complementary teacher training events are to be introduced in 2008.

With a view to providing equal access to training, the Academy in 2007 commissioned an e-learning management information system, and fifty e-learning modules available to external users have since been published online. The system also includes tests and quizzes, allowing users to assess their understanding of the training, and feed back/survey modules to allow the EPO to assess the quality of its training offerings.

The benefits of e-learning modules were highlighted by the increased usage of the esp@cenet assistant, which was consulted twice as often as the year before. In late autumn the assistant was enhanced with the introduction of a Japanese-language version. "Virtual classroom" training courses which allow users around the world to take part in live training sessions, connected to the trainer and other participants by internet, were also relaunched.

On-site training continued, with the four day patent information beginners' seminar held twice and the launch of an advanced patent information seminar. In all, some 1 500 people took part in 50 training events, including new courses such as a workshop on patent valuation tools, designed to help users assess their own strengths and weaknesses in patent portfolio management.

Academy support for European qualifying examination (EQE) candidates was maintained throughout the year, in particular with the re-opening of the EQE Internet Forum, an information and experience exchange platform which allows candidates to practise on legal questions similar to those in the EQE and compare their answers with model solutions.

Conferences, fairs and exhibitions

In April, some 450 experts attended the European Patent Forum at EPO headquarters to discuss the future of the patent system and intellectual property in general in the context of the Office's thirtieth anniversary. The forum opened with a presentation of the EPO Scenarios for the Future and featured numerous discussion panels and workshops, taking a comprehensive look at how globalisation and other challenges might shape the intellectual property landscape over the next two decades. The keynote speakers included German Chancellor Angela Merkel (holder of the European Union Presidency at the time) and European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen.

The forum was combined with the European Inventor of the Year award ceremony, held at the International Congress Center in Munich before an audience of around 600. The awards, in four categories, honoured individuals and teams who have made significant contributions to innovation in Europe.

The annual conference of Europe's patent information centres (PATLIB2007) took place in Seville in May and was attended by 450 intellectual property professionals from 41 countries, including 29 member states.

At the annual Patent Information Conference held in Riga in October, attended by around 400 patent searchers and information specialists, the Office presented a pilot project for manually translating the abstracts and claims of Chinese utility documents in certain technical fields.

In November, the Online Services Annual Conference in Como was attended by some 500 participants, mostly patent attorneys and industry representatives. Its theme was end-to-end electronic processing, and it also featured a number of practical workshops.

The EPO also organised one-day forums in Brussels on computer-implemented inventions (in July) and biotechnological inventions (in November). There were speakers from institutions including the European Parliament and industrial and non-governmental organisations.

As part of its patent awareness campaign, the EPO in 2007 attended some 21 exhibitions and trade fairs, at which it held eleven public presentations and seminars, focusing on biotechnology, nanotechnology and computing, and took part in eleven other events to promote its patent information products and services.

Professional representatives

The European qualifying examination was held in March 2007. Of the 2 311 candidates, 2 045 actually sat the examination, a 4.5 % increase over 2006. In all, there were 407 successful candidates, a pass rate of 20 %.

In the course of the year, 380 people were added to the list of professional representatives, 306 were deleted, and about 1 200 requested a change in their existing registration. The total number of active professional representatives on the list on 31 December was 8 866, as against 8 792 a year before. 60 % of the people on the list have passed the EQE. Fig. 1

Twenty new associations of representatives were registered and six deleted, bringing the total number of associations to 220, the majority located in Germany, followed by Switzerland and the United Kingdom. There were 70 new registrations of legal practitioners authorised to act as representatives before the EPO, bringing the total to 1 216.  

Quick Navigation