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4 March 2014
The ‘Co-operation Plan' was signed in London by EPO President Benoît Battistelli, the UK Intellectual Property Minister, Lord Younger, and John Alty, head of the Intellectual Property Office.
The plan outlines new working arrangements for better co-operation between the two organisations and will also allow UK businesses to have increased access to patent information in Europe.
Mr Battistelli said: "This collaboration between the UK and the EPO will benefit all users of the patent system. I welcome this opportunity for closer co-operation in areas of mutual interest, particularly around patent-related IT services and e-learning tools.
Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger said: "The fact that we have seen a rise in complex patent applications just goes to show that the UK is once again a nation of inventors. Our businesses with a creative and innovative approach are thriving and this agreement is a boost for expanding and marketing their ideas and products into the European market."
During the visit, EPO President Battistelli also met with judges, leading UK businesses and representatives of patent attorney associations, in order to exchange views on their needs and on how to improve the patent system in Europe.
Enhanced co-operation between the EPO and the UK will help both offices deliver high quality and timely services. An important part of the new agreement is making patent information more accessible to companies and researchers in the UK and the rest of Europe.
Patent documents are rich in the very latest technical and scientific research. They can help businesses determine the latest technology trends, find technology partners and suppliers, and decide if they should invest in developing a new technology, or license-in an existing solution. The EPO's Espacenet is one of the biggest free patent databases online containing more than 85 million documents from around the world. And thanks to the EPO's Patent Translate service, this wealth of information can be automatically translated at the click of a mouse between English and 31 other languages.The number of European patents granted to UK companies and inventors has increased by 25% over the past five years, and the UK ranked 8th for patent filings at the EPO in 2012. The EPO's 2013 annual figures will be announced on 6 March at a press conference in Brussels.
The UK is a founding member of the European Patent Organisation, which was set up on 7 October 1977 on the basis of the European Patent Convention (EPC) signed in Munich in 1973.