The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 167th meeting as e-meeting under its Chairperson Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ).
The Council was provided with the President's activities report in the form of a comprehensive video, featuring highlights from 2020 and showing the major changes the EPO had gone through, as well as the different ways it managed to make progress regarding the Strategic Plan. The President also highlighted improvements in both quality and timeliness, along with a significant drop in the Office's backlog. The digitalisation of the patent granting process - along with the digital file marketplace, digital file allocation and the digital talent marketplace - have also led to more flexible workload management, greater internal mobility, and efficiency gains. Professional development therefore remained a top priority in 2021, as reflected by the increased online training offering. Several member states congratulated the President, management and staff for the excellent results which showed the Office's resilience, ingenuity and commitment to adapting to the challenges of the pandemic throughout the year.
The Council also noted the reports of its chairperson and of the respective chairpersons of the Budget and Finance Committee, the Technical and Operational Support Committee, and the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS).
The Office presented an orientation document "Towards a New Normal", outlining how it can adjust to the new normal to continue delivering on its commitment to excellence. The document contains strategic orientations for increasing flexibility, collaboration and a sense of community at the EPO. After a lively debate in which some member states called for a cautious approach, the Council gave a unanimously favourable opinion. The Council also discussed and noted the Office's approach to revising its medium-term building investment strategy in the light of the new normal.
The Council addressed several other important items, and approved:
Regarding financial matters, having noted the opinion of the Board of Auditors, the Council approved their report as well as the EPO's accounts for 2020. It lauded the Office's prudent approach to its planning assumptions in 2022, which take the impact of the pandemic into consideration. Thanks to its cautious recruitment policy and the positive contribution made by the bundle of financial measures, the Office forecasted a positive net result for 2022.
The Council also took note of the latest developments regarding the Unitary Patent.
Finally, in a closed session, it took a number of decisions on staff matters, and particularly on the appointment, re-appointment and promotion of several BoA members and chairpersons based on proposals by the President of the Boards of Appeal made after consulting him, or on proposals from the Chairperson of the Council.
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 166th meeting as an e-meeting on 23 March under its Chairperson Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ).
The President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS, provided the Council with an extensive report on the Office's performance under each of the five main goals of the Strategic Plan 2023, as well as some information on preparations for the new normal and the launch of the consultation of external stakeholders. The Council noted with satisfaction the President's report and congratulated and thanked the management and the staff of the Office on the continuing excellent results obtained.
The Council noted the activities report of its Chairperson and the report of the Chairperson of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BOAC), as well the management report of the President of the Boards of Appeal (BoA). The Council commented very positively on the results achieved by the BoA.
The Council then unanimously approved the amendment to the Rules of Procedure of the BoA namely the insertion of new Article 15a which clarifies that the Boards of Appeal may hold oral proceedings pursuant to Article 116 EPC by videoconference.
Finally, it took the following decisions on individual positions:
The Council also decided on the appointments, re-appointments and promotions of several members of the BoA, based on proposals by the President of the BoA and on his consultation or recommendations on proposals from the Chairperson of the Council.
It further noted the latest developments regarding the Unitary Patent.
The President of the European Patent Office and the Council then bid farewell to Mr Herman PHÁLEN, long-standing member of the Swedish delegation.
Lastly, the Council paid tribute to the memory of Prof Dr Otto LEBERL, former Chairperson of the Council, who recently passed away.