16 June 2014
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The EPO and the national patent offices of the EPO member states including its extension states met in Crete on 12/13 June to discuss how to advance co-operation in order to improve the quality and efficiency of the European patent system, and thus better serve inventors and industry. The 8th annual meeting on co-operation was hosted by the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation and attracted a record number of attendees, including representatives of 38 national patent offices, in addition to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) in an observer capacity.
"The challenges facing us all have one feature in common: they can only be addressed through co-operation between all of the actors in the European patent system," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli in his opening speech. Referring to the results of co-operation between the EPO and Europe's national patent offices, he said: "We have good reason to be pleased with the achievements so far. The co-operation has been put on a more systematic and efficient footing, instead of following a case-by-case approach."
This year's meeting looked at the three main topics that are at the heart of co-operation between the EPO and the national offices of its member states: training for the staff of the national patent offices and other target groups; IP awareness and patent information; and patent-related IT tools and services.
Participants reviewed progress made under the EPO's "Co-operation Roadmap" for 2012-15, which is now halfway through its implementation. A range of joint projects launched under this framework have substantially enhanced the quality of services for users of the European patent system. These include the Federated European Patent Register, with "deep-linking" to data on the legal status of a European patent in the national phase now available for 28 member states; support for European Qualifying Examination candidates; PATLIB centres; and the completed delivery, a year ahead of schedule, of Patent Translate, the EPO's free machine translation service, which covers the 28 official languages of its member states, as well as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian.