The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 152nd meeting in The Hague on 28 and 29 June 2017 under the chairmanship of Jesper KONGSTAD, Director General of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.
After the Chairman's report on the most recent meetings of the Board of the Administrative Council, the Council noted the oral activities report given by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît BATTISTELLI. In the ensuing discussion on these reports, the Council carried-out an exchange of views on the social situation. In particular, it heard a statement by the Dutch delegation concerning this issue. Once again the Council was pleased with the outstanding results reported by the Office in terms of production, productivity and quality.
Under the heading of General Affairs, the Council took note of the Office-wide re-organisation of services which just started, and in particular of the principles and features applicable to DG1 and DG2 in the context of digitalization, clearer responsibilities and higher efficiency strived through end-to-end processing. It further exchanged views on the need to ensure clarity of the new roles and reporting lines, and agreed to the readjustment of the VP2 portfolio of activities. It therefore unanimously nominated Alberto CASADO to the new position of Vice-President in charge of all patent granting activities, supervising 3 Chief Operating Officers and roughly 5000 examiners and formalities officers. The Council also took the opportunity to bid farewell to the long-serving Vice-President DG1, Guillaume MINNOYE, who is retiring on 30 June after an outstanding career.
The Council further noted the oral reports from the chairpersons of its various advisory bodies on their recent meetings: Patent Law Committee, Technical and Operational Support Committee, Boards of Appeal Committee, Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security, Budget and Finance Committee and Select Committee. In respect of the latter, it was informed by the chairman and by the delegations of Malta and Estonia, being the countries holding until 30 June and from 1 July the Presidency of the EC, about the latest developments and progress on the Unitary Patent in the participating Member States, including the particular events in the United Kingdom and Germany.
The Council then proceeded with a series of appointments and elections. It firstly unanimously elected Christoph ERNST (DE) to become Chairman of the Council for 3 years, starting on 1 October 2017. It then re-appointed one member of the Board of Auditors, Ola HOLLUM (NO). The Council also decided to re-appoint to the Boards of Appeal only those persons put forward for re-appointment.
The Council also agreed the procedure for designating the deputy of the President of the Boards of Appeal and took note of the intended procedure to handle after-service activities of former members of these Boards. Finally the Council unanimously endorsed the proposal prepared by its Chairman regarding the procedural preparations for the election of the future President of the Office to take office on 1 July 2018.
Under the heading Legal and International Affairs, the Council took note of the significant development of validation agreements and endorsed the requests of Brunei and Angola to enter into negotiations on a validation agreement. It then had a broad exchange of view on the exclusion from patentability of plants and animals produced by essentially biological processes, complementing the discussion in the latest Committee on Patent Law and reflecting inter alia the recent production by the European Commission of a Notice on the issue. The Council approved the Office proposal to amend the EPC Implementing Regulations in order to ensure very swiftly as much harmonization and legal certainty as possible. It further took note of the forthcoming adjustments of the Examination Guidelines, as a consequence of this decision, and indicated that it will revert to the issue in due course, when experience is gathered with the new provisions.
Turning to matters concerning the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS), the Council welcomed the outstanding results achieved by the Administrator and his team in 2016, and decided to defer its decision on the new proposals for a revised composition and competence profile of the RFPSS Supervisory Board. It gave the Board 28 a mandate to examine the question in collaboration with the President of the Office.
In personnel matters, the Council welcomed the comprehensive and balanced proposal for revised Service Regulations, covering the standards of conduct and ethics and the reform of the internal justice system, as a step forward in improving the social situation. It thus unanimously adopted the proposal and indicated that a review of the progress achieved should take place in due course i.e. within 2 to 3 years from now, based on experience gathered in the meantime.
The Council then unanimously approved the Financial Statements for 2016, together with the Board of Auditors' annual report on the 2016 accounting period, and discharged the President of the Office and the Administrator of the RFPSS. It further delivered a positive opinion on the initial 2018 budgetary orientations including the Office proposal concerning the freeze of the inflation-related fee adjustment.
In addition, the Council decided that the first ever annual report on quality, as well as the annual social report, should be tabled for discussion in its October meeting.
Finally the Administrative Council paid tribute to Jesper KONGSTAD, who served as its Chairman for more than 7 years and will step down on 30 September, and also bid farewell to the head of the Swedish delegation, Susanne ÅS SIVBORG.
The Administrative Council held its 151st meeting in Munich on 15 and 16 March 2017, with Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent Office, in the chair.
After the Chairman's activities report, covering in particular the last meeting of the Board of the Administrative Council, the Council noted the activities report given by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli. The Council was pleased with the excellent results achieved by the Office.
The Council had an exchange of views on the social situation at the Office and on the issue of the appointment procedure for the next President.
The Council re-elected the chairman of the Committee on Patent Law, Sean Dennehey (GB), for a term of three years. It then made three appointments to the Supervisory Board of the Academy of the European Patent Organisation and a number of appointments and reappointments to the Boards of Appeal.
Lastly, the Council heard brief oral reports on the unitary patent by the Maltese delegation representing the country holding the EU presidency in the first half of 2017, as well as by the representative of the European Commission and the chairman of the Select Committee.