Commemorating 25 years of close relations between the EPO and the SIPO at the Shanghai World EXPO 2010

President Battistelli's opening speech during a meeting to commemorate 25 years of close relations between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) 

Commissioner Tian Lipu
Deputy Head of the Delegation of the EU,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to be here today in this wonderful city of Shanghai, and a pleasure to be the host of this conference at the prestigious Expo 2010.

I am delighted that my first official mission as President of the EPO has brought me to China. In my new capacity I can continue an important task which I started in my former position as head of the French National Institute for Industrial Property, and whose development at European level I oversaw as head of the French delegation and, later, as Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation. It is my firm conviction that relations between China and Europe will continue to play a decisive role in the successful development of the patent system at global level.

I wish to express my thanks to the EU delegation to China, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the IPR2 project for organising this conference. I would also like to address a word of thanks to the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination for their guidance and assistance in the preparation of this event.

Our event today provides a good framework to commemorate 25 years of successful cooperation between the EPO and the SIPO. It forms the basis of the successful partnership Europe and China have managed to establish in the field of intellectual property. One could even say that this cooperation has now become a good tradition in our bilateral relations.

It started with bilateral projects between individual European states such as Germany, France and the UK, with China, and soon extended with projects between the EPO and the then Chinese Patent Office in the mid-1980s. This cooperation paved the way to a comprehensive co-operation agreement on intellectual property rights between the European Union and China within the framework of the EU-China Programme. Amongst other aspects, it has resulted in two major projects dedicated to IPR, and led to the creation of a fruitful and continuous dialogue between China and Europe on intellectual property.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners on the Chinese and European side for their trust in the expertise of the EPO and their excellent co-operation in these projects over the years.

From a historical perspective, one could say that co-operation between the two offices developed alongside the successful deployment of the European patent system, and benefited from technical advances achieved in that system. This is particularly true at technical and infrastructural level. The acquisition by the Chinese Office of the EPO's EPOQUE electronic search system, for instance, the related technology transfer and the extensive programme of data exchange between the two offices are without doubt hallmarks of that co-operation.

Another important feature of our bilateral co-operation is the provision of training in search and examination for patent examiners, as well as the establishment of comparative studies aimed at producing a better understanding of our respective procedures and procedural approaches. This is essential to our preparations for the future utilisation of each other's examination results.

In addition to this, in 2007 the EPO and the SIPO signed a new agreement on strategic partnership. Founded on the maturity and closeness of the relations between the two offices, and taking into account the significant expansion of the Chinese patent system, the agreement forms the basis for future bilateral co-operation and fosters the alignment of the policies of both offices in relation to international IP issues

I can therefore state with some satisfaction that today, thanks to our co-operation, the Chinese and European patent systems now have much in common.

The EPO has also developed constructive relations with other IP-related institutions such as the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the All China Patent Agents Association, local Chinese IP administrations and the European Chamber of Commerce in China.

At multilateral level, too, the EPO and China have enhanced their co-operation over the years, with our Office acting as the executive agency in EU-funded IP co-operation projects, such as the current IPR2 project, which is being implemented with the support of the EPO member states and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market.

Many Chinese institutions have joined in this co-operation. With a budget of more than EUR 16m and a running time of four years, IPR2 is also the most ambitious of these projects in terms of substance and goals.  

The enforcement of IP rights in China lies at the heart of this project. Enforcement ensures that innovative thinking, technical ingenuity and brand identity can not only be effective tools for generating new business, but also facilitate technical solutions relating to some of the major challenges facing mankind, such as climate change, disease and disaster relief. The international dimension of trade calls for co-operation on IP enforcement with a view to establishing recognised, predictable and converging practices.

Enforcement is also the subject of today's conference on IPR protection at trade fairs. International trade fairs are a meeting ground for players on the international market where they can come together in person to showcase their innovation capacity.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has been instrumental in promoting a broad spectrum of initiatives in support of companies taking part in European and Chinese trade fairs. I would particularly like to mention the presence of specialised IP staff as mediators at trade fairs. These mediators play an especially important role for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, providing on-the-spot guidance and advice as the need arises.

In today's conference we will go one step further. We have set up a moot court, before which Chinese and European experts will act out an infringement case under the conditions of the two jurisdictions.

The court simulation will involve a real-life infringement case - well known and employed in similar training events - and will highlight the similarities and differences between Chinese and European practices and procedures. The result will help clarify procedures for our stakeholders.

I wish this conference every success,

Thank you for your attention.

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