Munich, 13 May 2011 -- The Director-General of Tunisia's National Institute for Standardisation and Industrial Property (INNORPI), Aymen Mekki, and the President of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoît Battistelli, have signed a four‑year memorandum of understanding and a two‑year working plan for bilateral co‑operation.
These agreements give fresh impetus to relations between the two institutions and demonstrate their determination to work together for the benefit of users of the global patent system. The aim is to sign, by the end of 2012, a validation agreement under which European patents would be recognised in Tunisia. That would make Tunisia the second non‑EPO member state to benefit from such an arrangement.
INNORPI and the EPO have agreed on a series of measures designed to boost national patent filing as part of Tunisia's innovation policy. These include:
"The EPO is very pleased to be able to offer its patents expertise to support INNORPI in implementing an ambitious policy to stimulate innovation. An enhanced national framework of protection for inventions, combined with a validation agreement, will be a great help in attracting foreign investment to Tunisia", says EPO President Benoît Battistelli.
Welcoming the signing of the agreements, INNORPI's Director-General Aymen Mekki praised the EPO's willingness to support Tunisia by helping his institution with its training programmes and efforts to raise awareness among IP stakeholders.
Receiving over 230 000 applications and granting between 50 000 and 60 000 patents a year, the EPO is the central patent-granting authority for Europe and one of the world's leading patent offices. It has 7 000 staff, including 4 000 highly qualified engineers and scientists working as patent examiners in its three official languages (English, French and German), and an entirely self-financed annual budget of some EUR 1.6bn. That makes it the second biggest European organisation, after the European Commission.
INNORPI, an executive non-departmental public body, is also self-funding. Each year, its 120 staff deal with around 650 patent filings, including 150 from Tunisian applicants, 4 500 trade marks and 160 industrial designs. INNORPI is also responsible for the central register of commerce.
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