Speaking at an event in Helsinki today to mark the 170th anniversary of the grant of the first Finnish patent, the EPO's Vice-President for Legal and International Affairs, Raimund Lutz, paid tribute to the long and venerable history of the Finnish patent system, and Finland's active role in supporting the development of the patent system in Europe. Also among the speakers at the event were WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, Director General of the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland Rauni Hagman, and Janne Metsämäki, Secretary of State in the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
"The EPO is honoured to have a national patent office from a country with such a long tradition in intellectual property rights among its ranks," said Raimund Lutz in his welcome address. "Finland, as a country with a growing, export-oriented industrial base and a strong culture of innovation, is an important member of the group of European countries which have chosen to put their patenting resources together and thereby help to bolster the competitive position of European industry in the globalised economy".
Mr Lutz highlighted the fruitful cooperation between the EPO and the National Board of Patents and Registration since Finland joined the European Patent Organisation in 1996. "Finland has been very active in supporting the further development of the European patent system to make it the most successful legal system for protecting inventions across Europe," he said.
One area where this co-operation has borne fruit recently is the machine translation of patents, Mr Lutz said. The EPO recently launched a new free online patent translation service, called Patent Translate, together with Google, aimed at improving access to technological information around the world. The first set of seven languages is already available, and the other languages ─ including Finnish ─ are being added as the data become available.
The EPO is implementing a range of other activities with the Finnish patent office in all areas covered by the EPO's new "co-operation roadmap" with its member states, including patent information and awareness, IT systems, and professional training.
Finnish companies are very active in patenting their inventions in Europe. In 2011, the EPO received a total of 1 571 applications from Finland, and 587 European patents were granted. (In comparison, there were 1 744 national applications and 841 national patents granted.) Half of the applications at the EPO were in the fields of telecommunications, digital communication and computer technology. The total number of European patents in force in Finland stands at just under 36 000.