Munich, Germany, 13 March 2013 - The EPO's Economic and Scientific Advisory Board (ESAB) has drawn up recommendations for improving the patent system, based on the main findings from the Board's 2012 activities as set out in a statement. Along with this statement, the ESAB is also publishing the reports of three workshops conducted in 2012, on patent quality, the role of fees, and patent thickets.
In all these publications the Board highlights the importance of patent quality in boosting innovation. It points out that improving patent quality will require action at both the pre-and post-grant stages of the patenting process. In the pre-grant phase, specific measures are needed to address the speed and quality of patent examination. At the post grant stage, opposition or re-examination proceedings require improvement, together with the litigation system. On this latter point, the establishment of Europe's Unified Patent Court is expected to make a major contribution.
As general policies, the Board recognises the need to support independent inventors, small and medium-sized enterprises and universities in their dealings with the patent system. The essential role of patent information could be further enhanced by greater transparency about patent ownership and legal status data (e.g. patent assignment) via improved patent registers.
In its third study - on patent thickets - the Board clearly states that it does not regard such "thickets" as a root cause of problems in the patent system. It concludes that measures to improve patent quality will help to reduce the complexity of the system and thus deal with patent thickets indirectly.
At its second annual meeting, the Advisory Board members also decided on the three specific policy issues to be addressed in 2013: the economic effects of the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court, two questions of particular relevance following the recent decisions taken at the EU level, and the possible impact of a grace period in Europe from an economic perspective.
Founded in January 2011 and composed of well-known individuals including economists, practitioners and social scientists with a focus on the patent system, the EPO's Economic and Scientific Advisory Board has the objective of contributing to a comprehensive analysis of the patent system in its economic and social context. The Advisory Board addresses issues that are closely related to the patent system and of significant interest to the European economy and society at large. The Advisory Board is fully independent from the EPO and its opinions do not commit the Office in any way.
For more information, please contact
Secretary General of the ESAB
Chief Economist, European Patent Office
Tel: +49 89/2399 - 1330