Knowledge and learning

European Patent Academy

As the EPO's central provider for external training, the European Patent Academy continued to organise a broad range of training events for industry and patent system stakeholders.

There were three major public events for industry and business advisers: "Search Matters 2008" in April, which attracted 200 patent searchers from industry; "Growing business with IP" in July, hosted at Bocconi University in Milan for over a hundred participants; and "Financing innovation" in November, held in Venice in partnership with the Italian Patent and Trademark Office and Venice International University and attracting an audience of over 120.

Seminars for business advisers and technology transfer specialists included four IP strategy workshops forming part of the European Commission's "ip 4 inno" project, and two workshops on patents and database searching for biotechnology researchers were held in September.

 The Academy has launched a series of projects in co-operation with the European Patent Institute (epi) and the Centre for Inter - national Industrial Property Studies (CEIPI) to provide a stronger foundation for vocational training for existing patent attorneys and also for training for the European qualifying examination (EQE), to give all EQE candidates additional tools to prepare for the exam.

In November, about 125 European patent attorneys attended the first "Examination Matters" event in The Hague, involving plenary sessions on topics of general interest and interactive workshops that enabled participants to exchange knowledge and experience with examiners working on specific topics of interest to them.

Also in November, the Fourth European Judges' Forum was held in Venice by the EPO and the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) as part of ongoing efforts to promote top-level debate on the future direction of the patent system in Europe.

In December, over a hundred representatives of academia and national offices met in The Hague to identify how to proceed with implementing the actions envisaged in their national road maps on the dissemination of IP in universities, aimed at promoting patent-related IP teaching in universities and encouraging universities to take best advantage of their own IP.

In 2008, the concluding two modules were held in the innovation support training programme, designed to support the national IP offices in fostering innovation and technology transfer in their own countries. Over 40 training seminars dedicated to the patenting process were held on EPO premises and at the national offices of Croatia, Greece, Portugal and Spain, attracting more than 700 national office staff members and other civil servants.

Conferences, fairs and exhibitions

Some 300 policy-makers, patent scientists and business representatives gathered in Ljubljana in May at the second European Patent Forum to discuss how the current patent system can support innovations to combat climate change. Leading experts from around the world gave a realistic assessment of the current environmental situation and future trends, and there were panel discussions on pressing issues and seminars outlining the aspects of patenting procedure that are relevant to climate technology. The keynote speakers included Slovenian Economy Minister Andrej Vizjak, European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Forum was held together with the European Inventor of the Year awards, which honour pioneers whose inventions have changed our everyday lives and helped to strengthen Europe's competitiveness. Slovenian President Danilo Türk presented the prizes to inventors of a ground-breaking AIDS treatment, lighter and more environmentally friendly aluminium car frames, a powerful but pain-free laser scanner for the eye, and a robot designed to improve medical surgery.

PATLIB 2008, the annual conference of Europe's patent information centres, took place in Warsaw in May and was attended by some 370 IP professionals from 34 countries, including 29 member states. It addressed the issues facing the PATLIB network, with a view to making it fit for the future.

The annual Patent Information Conference, held in Stockholm in October and attended by around 400 patent searchers and specialists, dealt with quality in patent databases. It concluded that quality in patent information depends on everyone in the chain sharing the quality burden, from the applicant or attorney who drafts the original patent application, through the patent offices to the patent searchers at the end of the chain.

In 2008 the EPO participated in ten exhibitions and trade fairs, at which it gave public presentations and seminars focusing on biotechnology, nanotechnology and computing, and took part in six other events to promote its patent information products and services.

Professional representatives

In the course of the year, 702 names were added to the list of professional representatives, 241 were deleted, and 1 655 requests for changes to existing data were registered. The total number of active professional representatives on the list on 31 December was 9 356, compared with 8 866 a year before. 63 % of the representatives on the list have passed the European qualifying examination (EQE). 

31 new associations of representatives were registered and one was deleted, bringing the total number of associations to 250, the majority located in Germany, followed by Switzerland and the United Kingdom. There were 58 new registrations of legal practitioners authorised to act as representatives before the EPO, which brings the total to 1 274. Fig.1

The 2008 EQE was held in March. There were 2 309 candidates, much the same as in 2007, and 2 065 actually sat the examination. The number that passed increased from 407 to 673, a pass rate of 32.6 %. A new regulation governing the EQE gives candidates greater flexibility in sitting the exam and provides for the introduction of a pre-examination in 2011. These and other measures will ensure better training for examination candidates.

A new regulation governing the EQE gives candidates greater flexibility in sitting the exam and provides for the introduction of a pre-examination in 2011. These and other measures will ensure better training for  examination candidates.  

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