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6 March 2013
More than 1 000 people signed up to attend a conference on global research co-operation this week at the European Parliament, which was co-sponsored by the EPO. It provided the ideal backdrop for a meeting between EPO President Benoît Battistelli and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, at the EPO's exhibition area adjacent to the conference rooms.
Mr Battistelli used this opportunity to introduce the Commissioner to Patent Translate, the EPO's tool for free machine translation of patents, and hence a powerful enabler of trans-cultural co-operation in research and science projects. A practical embodiment of research was on display at the EPO's stand in the form of Professor Josef Bille's award-winning method for laser eye surgery: The German scientist was distinguished with the European Inventor Award 2012 in the Lifetime Achievement category for his ground-breaking invention.
In his keynote speech at the conference, Benoît Battistelli highlighted ways in which the patent system fosters scientific research and collaboration. "The EPO is a driving force for innovation, and thereby, for competitiveness and economic growth," he said. "Our activities serve, in particular, the interests of European innovators. However, the EPO also has a global reach: it provides an interface with the world beyond the boundaries of Europe. Intellectual property and innovation are global matters, calling for new perspectives and new forms of co-operation."
One area of successful co-operation highlighted by Mr Battistelli is the recent agreement by EU member states on the introduction of a unitary patent. "For the patent system and its users, this is a historic development," said Mr Battistelli. The unitary patent, to be granted and administered by the EPO on behalf of participating EU member states, is expected to reduce the costs of patenting inventions in Europe for the benefit of companies, and especially research centres and SMEs.
In the area of patent information, too, the EPO is working to make the patent system more accessible to companies, researchers and the public. Patent information is an important tool for researchers to identify partners for scientific collaboration or for the further development of an invention into a product. Patent information and services such as Patent Translate can be used as a tool for policymakers to identify technology trends and inform their decisions in the field of research and innovation.
The conference, "EU Science: Global Challenges, Global Collaboration, takes place on 4-8 March at the European Parliament in Brussels, and brings together hundreds of science policymakers, scientists and industry representatives from around the world. It is organised by Intelligence in Science (ISC), in association with the Irish Council Presidency and in conjunction with MEP Sean Kelly and other Members of the European Parliament, and with the support of the EPO.