30 June 2015
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 144th meeting on 24 and 25 June in Munich, with Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent Office, holding the chair.
After the Chairman's activities report, covering in particular the last meetings of the Board of the Administrative Council, the President of the European Patent Office gave an update of developments at the Office since the previous meeting. The Council was particularly pleased to note that reforms had started to produce results in terms of production and productivity. A debate took place on the social situation at the Office following the decision taken in March to resume the social dialogue with the concrete aim to reach the recognition of the trade unions. The Council expressed cautious optimism about the negotiation process initiated, and insisted on the necessity of genuine efforts from all parties involved.
The Council was also informed of the state of play regarding the disciplinary procedure against a Staff member appointed by the Council. The opinion and recommendation of the Disciplinary Council have been transferred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal in accordance with Article 23 EPC, and the Council will come back to the case for a final decision as soon as possible
The Council then proceeded with a series of appointments, first to DG 3, with a number of chairmen and members of the Boards of Appeal being reappointed, then to its own bodies: Johannes Kärcher (DE) was re-elected deputy chairman of the Committee on Patent Law for a three-year term, starting on 25 October 2015. Gerald Pilz (AT) was appointed as member representing the Administrative Council within the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) for a three-year term, starting on 1 July 2015. Otto Scharff (NO) was appointed member of Supervisory Board of the Academy of the European Patent Organisation for a three-year term, starting on 1 July 2015.
Important decisions were also taken regarding the top management of the Office. On a proposal from the President, the Council decided to extend until 31 December 2018 the appointments of Guillaume Minnoye (BE) and Raimund Lutz (DE), respectively Vice-President in charge of General Direction 1 and Vice-President in charge of General Direction 5.
Under the heading Legal and International Affairs, the Council heard the report of the chairman of the Select Committee (set up by the 25 EPC contracting states participating in the enhanced co-operation on unitary patent protection to supervise the EPO's activities related to the tasks entrusted to it in the context of unitary protection) on the 2 meetings of the committee held since the previous Council meeting (see Communiqués on the 14th and 15th meetings of the Select Committee on this website).
The chairman of the B+ Group then reported on recent developments in the area of Substantive Patent Law Harmonisation.
Concerning Personnel/Policy and Operational matters, the Council first took note of the Office's Social report for the year 2014. It thereby observed that thanks to excellent working conditions and a generous social package the Office remains an attractive employer.
The Council then approved transitional provisions for the implementation of the new career system for employees appointed in accordance with Article 11(3) of the European Patent Convention as chair or members of the Boards of Appeal. It was agreed that those transitional provisions will apply until any further decision has been taken on the matter of the structural reform of the Boards.
The Accounts for the 2014 accounting period were unanimously approved by the Council, which, following the Board of Auditors recommendation in their report, also decided to discharge the President and the Administrator of the Funds in 2014.
Finally the Council gave a unanimous favourable opinion on the initial 2016 budgetary orientations presented by the President of the Office.