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143rd meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 25 and 26 March 2015)

27 March 2015

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 143rd meeting on 25 and 26 March 2015 with Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent Office, in the chair.

The Council addressed the issue of the social climate at the EPO. After an extensive debate, the Council decided to give the highest priority to the restoration of the social dialogue. On a proposal of the President, the Council agreed to address a long-standing issue at the Office - the formal recognition of the trade unions in the EPO legal framework. The Chairman and the President issued a joint statement, containing a call for such a renewed dialogue (see this website). The trade unions will be invited shortly for a kick-off meeting with representatives of both the Council and the Office, to be held in April already.

The Council had an exchange of views on an orientation document submitted by the President on a structural reform of the Boards of Appeal. The aim is to ensure the independence of the Boards and to reinforce the general perception of their autonomy, within the framework of the European Patent Convention. The Council gave its general support to the policy lines as presented. First concrete proposals will be elaborated for decision at the next Council meeting, in June 2015. These proposals will have to take due account of contributions received as a result of a broad consultation of stakeholders, to be launched shortly.

The Council established its Disciplinary Committee for 2015. Chairman is Sir Konrad Schiemann, a UK judge with both national and international substantial experience and reputation. The Council also unanimously approved amendments to the rules of procedure of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, aiming at establishing the modalities of application of Article 23 EPC.

The Council approved a reform of the EPO sick leave regulations and invalidity scheme.

The Council stressed the importance of a transparent, efficient and consistent communication on the overall strategy defined to meet the challenges ahead. The Council decided to strengthen its efforts in this matter. The Chairman will develop a policy and instruments to this end.

Finally, the Council proceeded with a series of appointments, first to the Boards of Appeal, then to its own bodies. Christoph Ernst (DE) was elected chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, for a three-year term, starting on 27 June 2015; Borghildur Erlingsdóttir (IS) and Derk-Jan De Groot (NL) were elected as members of the Board of the Administrative Council for a three-year term, starting on 27 June 2015; Christian Bock (CH) was appointed Deputy chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) for a three-year term, starting on 1 July 2015; Hannes Schuh (AT) was reappointed as member of the Board of Auditors, for a five-year term, starting on 1 July 2015.

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