The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 150th meeting in Munich on 14 and 15 December 2016 under the chairmanship of Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.
After the Chairman's report on the most recent meeting of the Board of the Administrative Council, the Council noted the oral activities report given by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli. The Council was once again pleased with the outstanding results achieved by the Office in terms of production and productivity but stressed the need for swift progress in the social agenda and concrete proposals and achievements to come in the next months.
Under the heading of General Affairs, the Council had an in depth exchange of views about the future priorities of the EPO, based on the orientations proposed by the Office, following on from comprehensive social and financial studies. The three main areas identified by the Office were positively received by the delegations and some priority was given to the finalisation of projects related to employment law matters. Underlining the need to improve the social dialogue, the Council mandated its Chair to work together with the Board 28 and the Office on concrete proposals in the first half of 2017.
The Council noted oral reports from the chairpersons of various sub-bodies: Supervisory Board of the Academy of the European Patent Organisation, Boards of Appeal Committee, Technical and Operational Support Committee, Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security, Select Committee, Committee on Patent Law and Budget and Finance Committee.
The Council also heard a status report on the Unitary patent and related developments, given by the Slovak delegation, representing the country holding the EU presidency for the second half of 2016. The Council noted the announcement of the UK delegation that the UK would continue with the ratification procedure concerning the UPC Agreement.
The Council, based on a joint proposal by the Boards of Appeal Committee and the President of the Office, appointed Mr Carl Josefsson (SE) President of the Boards of Appeal for a term of five years, beginning on a date to be negotiated between him and the Council chairman. It also appointed Mr Josefsson Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, legally qualified member of the Boards of Appeal and Chairman of the Disciplinary Board of Appeal, each for a term of five years, beginning on a date to be negotiated between him and the Council chairman.
The Council proceeded with a series of appointments and reappointments to the Boards of Appeal. It was also informed about the early retirement of Vice-President DG 1 Guillaume Minnoye (30.06.2017).
The Council then appointed Mr Carlos Marinho (PT) and Ms Gabriella Muscolo (IT) as alternate members of the Boards of Appeal Committee, from among former or serving judges, for a three-year term, starting on 14 December 2016.
By way of further appointments to the Council's own bodies, the Council appointed Mr Habip Asan (TR) chairman of the Technical and Operational Support Committee for a three-year term, starting on 15 December 2016.
The Council also adopted the proposals of the Office in relation to the internal means of redress system, following two recent judgments of the ILOAT.
Under the heading Legal and International Affairs, the Council mandated the President of the Office to sign a validation agreement between the Organisation and the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Turning to Building matters, the Council approved the signature of a lease contract for a new building of the Board of Appeals, located in Haar, near Munich.
Finally, under Financial matters, the Council adopted the Authorisation Budget for 2017 together with the table of posts and other essential financial elements such as maintaining at 50% the Office share of the renewal fees.
The Select Committee held its 20th meeting in Munich on 25 October 2016.
The Committee noted the results of a questionnaire on national measures accompanying the implementation of the Unitary Patent.
It further noted an oral report given by the Office on the technical, namely IT, implementation of the Unitary Patent and on pre-certification of the Unitary Patent under ISO 9001.
The Committee unanimously approved the Administrative instructions under Article 7 of the Rules relating to the Distribution of Fees amongst the participating member states and noted that this completed the legal preparation of the Unitary Patent.
Finally, the Committee noted that the next meeting would take place at the latest in March 2017 or earlier, depending on the development of the question of the entry into force of the UPP/UPC at the political level, within the framework of the European Union.
Select Committee Secretariat
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 149th meeting in Munich on 12 and 13 October 2016 under the chairmanship of Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.
After the Chairman's report on the most recent meetings of the Board of the Administrative Council, the Council noted the activities report given by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli (to be published shortly on this website). The Council was pleased with the excellent results achieved by the Office in terms of efficiency and productivity but again stressed the need to be conscious of any possible impact on quality. The Council urged staff and management to use the momentum of the Social Conference, held just ahead of the Council meeting, in order to further the social dialogue and work together to find solutions.
The Council then proceeded with a series of appointments and reappointments of members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal and a Chairman and of legally and technically qualified members of the Board of Appeals.
Later, under the heading Legal and International Affairs, the Council heard a status report on the Unitary patent and related developments, given by the Slovak delegation, representing the country holding the EU presidency for the second half of 2016.
The Council made the following appointments to the Boards of Appeal Committee each for a three-year term, starting on 13 October 2016
a) from among the delegations:
Mr Roland Grossenbacher(CH) and his alternate Mr Derk-Jan De Groot (NL),
Ms Patricia García-Escudero (ES) and her alternate Mr Jorma Hanski (FI),
Ms Bucura Ionescu (RO) and her alternate Ms Catherine Margellou (GR)
b) from among former or serving judges:
Mr Klaus Bacher (DE), Mr Justice Birss (GB) and Mr Are Stenvik (NO). Alternate members in this category would be appointed at the next Council meeting. The Council noted that the Board of Appeals Committee and the President would make a joint proposal for appointment of the President of the Boards of Appeal in time for the next Council meeting.
By way of further appointments to the Council's own bodies, in each case for a three-year term, starting on 15 December 2016, the Council:
-elected Mr Josef Kratochvíl (CZ) deputy chairman of the Council,
re-elected Mr Lex Kaufhold (LU) deputy chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee; and
-elected Mr Vojko Toman (SI) member of the Board of the Administrative Council.
It also elected Ms Delfina Autiero (IT) member representing the Administrative Council within the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) with effect from 12 October 2016.
On a proposal from the President, the Council decided to extend until 31 December 2018 the appointments of Mr Alberto Casado (ES) and Mr ZeljkoTopic (HR), Vice-Presidents in charge of Directorate-General 2 and 4 respectively.
Finally, the Council noted, as a first step in a longer process, comprehensive social and financial studies and had an exchange of views on reviewing the disciplinary procedures framework.
The work of the Preparatory Committee and the Select Committee is far advanced and expected to be completed before the end of the year. Last week's vote in the United Kingdom in favour of leaving the European Union has given rise to questions concerning the future of the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent Protection.
At this stage it is too early to assess what the impact of this vote on the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent Protection eventually could be.
This will largely depend on political decisions to be taken in the course of the next months. It has to be recalled that for the time being the United Kingdom remains a Member State of the European Union and a Signatory State of the Unified Patent Court Agreement.
Pending more clarity about different possible scenarios the chairmen of the Preparatory Committee and the Select Committee are of the opinion that the work dedicated to the technical implementation should continue to progress as envisaged, in accordance with the mandate of both Committees and in line with the clear wish of the user community to bring the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent into operation as soon as possible.
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 148th meeting on 29 and 30 June 2016 in Munich under the chairmanship of Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.
After having taken note of the chairman's activities report, the Council heard the President of the European Patent Office on the latest developments within the Office. The Council expressed its satisfaction on results achieved so far in various areas.
The Council then proceeded with a series of appointments and reappointments of members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, of Chairmen and of legally and technically qualified members of the Board of Appeals.
Mr Sandris Laganovskis, Head of the Latvian delegation, was elected Deputy Chairman of the Technical and Operational Support Committee with immediate effect.
The Council then appointed Mr Thomas Groffmann as Administrator of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security on a 5-year renewable contract.
The Council approved a comprehensive package of reform of the Boards of Appeal, submitted by the President following an extensive preparation conducted in close co-operation with the Board of the Administrative Council. The aims are to increase the organisational and managerial autonomy of the Boards and also their efficiency. The reform operates within the existing framework of the European Patent Convention, without requiring its revision.
This reform constitutes a landmark step for reinforcing the status, efficiency and long-term sustainability of the EPO's appeal system. It aligns the organisation and functioning of the Boards with national, European and international developments in the judiciary. It covers five main elements:a new institutional framework, a specific career system, the regulation of potential conflicts of interest, the allocation of a separate building and the improvement of the cost coverage of the appeal system. The corresponding Council decisions will be published in the next days.
Under the heading Legal and International Affairs, the Dutch delegation, representing the country holding the EU Presidency for the first half of 2016, reported on the latest developments concerning the Unitary Patent.
The Council then had an exchange of views on a disciplinary case involving a Council appointee and mandated its chairman to elaborate a proposal to be submitted at its next meeting.
The Council also had an exchange on the follow-up of its March 2016 resolution and decided to come back to the different topics addressed in that resolution at a next meeting. The Council reiterated its wish for an in-depth discussion on the social situation at the Office.
Concerning Financial and Budgetary matters, the Council, on the basis of the unanimous favourable opinion previously given by the Budget and Finance Committee, unanimously approved an amendment of the Rules relating to Fees (see Decision CA/D 4/16).
The Council, following the recommendation given by the Board of Auditors, unanimously approved the accounts for the 2015 accounting period and discharged the President and the Fund Administrator.
The Council gave a unanimous favourable opinion on the initial 2017 budgetary orientations presented by the President.
Finally, the Council paid tribute to two of its long standing members, namely Yves Lapierre, Head of the French delegation and Mihály Ficsor, Deputy Head of the Hungarian delegation.
The Select Committee held its 19th meeting in Munich on 15 March 2016.
The Committee discussed the basic specifications of the technical systems for the data transfer in relation to Unitary Patent Protection (UPP) between the EPO and the national Offices and noted that it would return to this topic on 20 May 2016 at a workshop.
The Committee had a first reading of the draft Administrative instructions under Article 7 of the Rules relating to the Distribution of Fees amongst the participating member states and gave its opinion on this first draft.
The Committee had an exchange of information on the possible implementation at the national level of a safety net provision in case of late rejection of a UPP request.
The Committee re-elected Jérôme Debrulle (BE) chairman of the Committee and elected Simona Marzetti (IT) deputy chairwoman, each for a term of three years with effect from 20 March 2016.
It noted that the next meeting would take place in September 2016.
Select Committee Secretariat
The Administrative Council held its 147th meeting in Munich on 16 March 2016, with Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent Office, in the chair.
After the Chairman's activities report, covering in particular the last two meetings of the Board of the Administrative Council, the Council noted the activities report given by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli. The Council was pleased with the excellent results achieved by the Office in terms of production and productivity but expressed concern about the social climate and discussed quality.
Following an in-depth discussion, the Council approved, in agreement with the President, a resolution on the social situation (see the document below).
The Council re-elected its chairman for a term of three years starting on 1 July 2016. It made two appointments to the Supervisory Board of the Academy and a number of appointments to the Boards of Appeal.
The Council noted information provided by the Office on the envisaged structural reform of the EPO Boards of Appeal.
The Council heard reports on the Select Committee 19th meeting (see separate report on this website) as well as on the unitary patent, the latter delivered by the Netherlands delegation representing the country holding the EU presidency in the first half of 2016.
RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL ON 16 MARCH 2016
in its capacity as supervisory organ of the EPOrg -
having repeatedly expressed its deep concerns about the social unrest within the EPOffice;
having repeatedly urged the EPOffice President and the trade unions to reach a consensus on an MOU which would establish a framework for negotiation between social partners;
noting that disciplinary sanctions and proceedings against staff or trade union representatives have, among other reasons, made it more difficult to reach such a consensus;
noting that these disciplinary sanctions and proceedings are widely being questioned in the public opinion;
recalling the importance and the urgency of the structural reform of the BOA;
recognizing the important institutional role of the AC and its dependence on a well-resourced and independent secretariat;
Calls on both parties to the social dialogue to recognize their responsibilities and to work diligently and in good faith to find a way forward, and:
Requests the EPOffice President -
to ensure that disciplinary sanctions and proceedings are not only fair but also seen to be so, and to consider the possibility of involvement of an external reviewer or of arbitration or mediation
pending the outcome of this process and before further decisions in disciplinary cases are taken, to inform the AC in appropriate detail and make proposals that enhance confidence in fair and reasonable proceedings and sanctions;
to submit to the AC a draft revision of the Staff Regulations which incorporates investigation guidelines (including the investigation unit) and disciplinary procedures which have been reviewed and amended;
to achieve, within the framework of the tripartite negotiations, an MOU simultaneously with both trade unions, which would have no pre-conditions or exclude any topics from future discussions;
to submit proposals to the AC at its June 2016 meeting, after discussion in B28, for immediate implementation of the structural reform of the BOA, on the lines of the 5 points agreed by the AC at its December 2015 meeting and of the legal advice given by Prof. Sarooshi, and taking into account comments from the Presidium of the BOA;
to submit proposals to the AC at its June 2016 meeting, after discussion in B28, for reinforcement of the AC secretariat and a clarification of its position in terms of governance.
Requests the staff representation and the Trade Unions -
to acknowledge the importance of firm and fair disciplinary procedures; and to respond constructively to the initiatives set out above, in particular to work rapidly to an agreement on Union recognition without preconditions.