SACEPO is consulted on all important issues relating to the development of the European patent system, ranging from broad European and international reforms - such as the introduction of the Unitary Patent, reform of the EPO's Boards of Appeal, revision of the EPC, PCT reform, substantive patent law harmonisation - to more practical issues relating to the European patent granting procedure such as changes to the EPC Implementing Regulations, EPO fee policy, revision of the Guidelines for Examination and other important projects such as Early Certainty from Search and Examination.

Regular consultation of SACEPO ensures that proposed changes in European patent law and practice are seen from the perspective of the users and debated in a thorough and balanced way prior to implementation. Its functions are of purely advisory nature.

The Main SACEPO - which will hold its 50th meeting in 2018 - is composed of 30 high-level practitioners with extensive experience in the field, appointed by the President of the EPO either ad personam or on a proposal by epi or Business Europe. In addition, five smaller Working Parties have been set up over the years in order to focus on particular topics:

  • SACEPO Working Party on Quality (SACEPO/Quality) is dedicated to quality matters in the patent grant process, with particular focus on the EPO's ISO 9001 certified Quality Management System. The Working Party holds one annual meeting where representatives from major user associations are providing feedback on new initiatives and the EPO's Annual Quality Report.
  • SACEPO Working Party on e-Patent-Process (SACEPO/ePP) focusses on operational matters related to the EPO's e-business projects, both as regards the electronic processing of the patent grant process and patent information projects in the field of customer services. User representatives in this Working Party include applicants, patent attorneys and experts from formalities bodies and billing centres.
  • SACEPO Working Party on Rules (SACEPO/Rules) and SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines (SACEPO/Guidelines) are composed of members nominated by epi and BUSINESSEUROPE and are consulted on proposed changes to the EPC's Implementing Regulations and on the annual revision of the Guidelines for Examination in the EPO, respectively.
  • SACEPO Working Party on Patent Documentation and Information (SACEPO/PDI) is composed of experts from patent documentation centres and libraries, experts from industry and patent attorneys. It holds one annual meeting in the EPO's sub-office in Vienna where members are provided with updates on the EPO's patent information products and services as well as future projects in the area.

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