The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 154th meeting in Munich on 13 and 14 December 2017 under the chairmanship of Christoph ERNST (DE).
The Administrative Council noted the activities reports given by its Chairman and by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît BATTISTELLI. In the ensuing discussion the Council welcomed the very positive results the Office was expecting for 2017, praised the management and staff for their achievements and encouraged all to progress in terms of social dialogue. The Council further noted the oral reports by the chairpersons of the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) and the Budget and Finance Committee on their recent meetings.
A series of elections and appointments was then on the agenda:
In respect of legal affairs the Council adopted in particular the Office proposals on fees for 2018-2020 under the existing working agreements on search co-operation.
Turning to personnel policy matters the Council conducted a general debate on the orientation paper submitted by the Office, regarding modernisation of the employment framework. It supported the principle of introducing more flexibility and expected the strategic, legal and financial outcomes of the discussion to be reflected in the concrete assessments and proposed modalities the Office would submit in early 2018.
The Council also addressed a number of financial matters. Firstly, it unanimously approved the draft budget for 2018 as well as the budget estimates for the four following years. In particular it endorsed the related Office proposals regarding a substantial reduction in PCT fees and online filing fees and the increase in the appeal fee. It also approved the yearly outcome of applying the salary method and further measures in the field of pensions.
In a closed session, the Council took a final decision in a disciplinary case against an employee appointed by the Council - a case which had attracted significant public attention. This decision was taken with due regard to all relevant elements. The Council expressed its satisfaction at having closed the case. In particular, it underlined its expectation that now - after a long period of intense debate - legal peace would be restored.
The Select Committee of the European Patent Organisation held its 22nd meeting in Munich on 9 October 2017.
The meeting was primarily dedicated to the preparation of financial aspects of the Unitary Patent. In this respect the Committee welcomed the submission of a draft statement of income and expenditure for 2018, which it endorsed and which was then incorporated into the Authorisation Budget of the Office. It also welcomed the proposed amendment to the Office Financial Regulations, introducing the required method of calculating the contributions payable by virtue of Article 146 EPC, as provided for in Article 50(e) EPC.
The Committee also took note of a presentation of the interfaces relating on the one hand to the electronic procedures for the filing of the request for unitary effect and on the other hand to the Register for Unitary Patent Protection. It much appreciated to be provided with an overview of all interfaces, confirming that the Office was ready for the implementing phase and was striving to ensure that the operations will be handled in a user-friendly manner.
Finally the Committee confirmed its intention to follow on ongoing progress and to meet again by the end of the first semester of 2018.
Select Committee Secretariat
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 153rd meeting in Munich on 10 and 11 October 2017 under the chairmanship of Christoph ERNST (DE).
A central issue was the election of the next President of the European Patent Office. A special Communiqué has been issued in this respect.
The Administrative Council noted the activities reports given respectively by its Chairman and by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît BATTISTELLI. In the ensuing discussion on the latter, the Council praised again the Office and its staff for the excellent results achieved. It also took note of the first report of the President of the Boards of Appeal, following the reform adopted in 2016.
The Council further noted the oral reports from the chairpersons of its advisory bodies on their recent meetings: Boards of Appeal Committee, Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security, Supervisory Board of the EPO Academy, and Select Committee.
The Council then proceeded with a series of elections and appointments to its advisory bodies. In particular it elected Mr Lex Kaufhold Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee for 3 years, starting on 10 October 2017. The Council also decided on appointments and re-appointments to the Enlarged Board of Appeal, the Boards of Appeal and the Disciplinary Board of Appeal.
The Council carried out an exchange of views on the first ever Annual Report on Quality. It expressed its satisfaction both on the methodology developed and on the measured achievements.
In respect of legal affairs the Council authorised the President of the Office to renew the EPO-WIPO Agreement in relation to the functioning of the EPO as an International Searching Authority and as an International Preliminary Examining Authority under the PCT.
Turning to matters concerning the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS), the Council reviewed the composition and competence profile of the RFPSS Supervisory Board and unanimously endorsed a revised governance.
At last, the Council held a thorough exchange of views on the Office’s social report for 2016, which comprehensiveness and transparency were most appreciated.
Mr António CAMPINOS elected next EPO President
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, meeting in Munich on 10 October 2017 under the chairmanship of Mr Christoph ERNST (DE), has elected Mr António CAMPINOS to succeed Mr Benoît BATTISTELLI as President of the European Patent Office (EPO). Mr CAMPINOS' 5-year term will start on 1 July 2018.
A Portuguese national, Mr CAMPINOS is currently Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). He is also a former President of the Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI). In the latter function, he has been for many years the Portuguese representative on the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation.
The Administrative Council, made up of the delegations from all member states, is the Organisation's legislative body. It is responsible for supervising the activities of the Office, approving the budget and appointing senior employees, including the President of the EPO.
The Chairman of the Administrative Council, Mr ERNST, congratulated Mr CAMPINOS on his election: "I am happy that the Council was able to reach a decision today on this very important matter, and to find in Mr CAMPINOS an excellent candidate. With him, I am confident that our Organisation will add another thriving chapter to its continued success story."
The European Patent Organisation is an intergovernmental organisation set up on the basis of the EPC, which was signed in Munich in 1973 and entered into force on 7 October 1977. The Organisation currently has 38 member states - all of the 28 EU members, plus Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey. Its task is to oversee the granting of European patents under the EPC by the European Patent Office.
With nearly 7 000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 42 countries, covering a market of around 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.
The Select Committee of the European Patent Organisation held its 21st meeting in The Hague on 27th June 2017, under the chairmanship of Jerôme DEBRULLE, Conseiller Général de l'Office Belge de la Propriété Intellectuelle.
The Committee took note of a status report regarding the state of play of the ratification procedures concerning the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA) and the Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application (Protocol on provisional application) in the participating Member States. It shared with the European Commission the objective to push for further ratifications and declarations to be bound, in order to have from start as many participating States as possible. The Committee further took note of an update provided by the European Commission on the patent-related action plan concerning support measures for SMEs.
The Committee further devoted time to the assurance that key technical aspects of the Unitary Patent Protection (UPP) would be ready at the time of implementation. Therefore, it took note of the progress achieved with technical specifications for data transfer and the new Electronic Bibliographic Data, as well as with the transfer of data concerning supplementary protection certificates.
Another focus of the meeting was the plan concerning external communication, promotion, and awareness-raising campaigns to be envisaged in relation to the UPP package. The Committee welcomed the comprehensive set of products and services being developed and in particular an extensive User Guide. It was also updated on the national measures accompanying the implementation of the UPP, which are being collected via a questionnaire. An overview of all replies received will be published once the UPP will have become operational.
Finally the Committee took note of the report by Estonia, the country holding the EU presidency for the 2nd half of 2017, on the successful finalisation of its own parliamentary ratification procedure.
Select Committee Secretariat
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 152nd meeting in The Hague on 28 and 29 June 2017 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 oral activities report given by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît BATTISTELLI. In the ensuing discussion on these reports, the Council carried-out an exchange of views on the social situation. In particular, it heard a statement by the Dutch delegation concerning this issue. Once again the Council was pleased with the outstanding results reported by the Office in terms of production, productivity and quality.
Under the heading of General Affairs, the Council took note of the Office-wide re-organisation of services which just started, and in particular of the principles and features applicable to DG1 and DG2 in the context of digitalization, clearer responsibilities and higher efficiency strived through end-to-end processing. It further exchanged views on the need to ensure clarity of the new roles and reporting lines, and agreed to the readjustment of the VP2 portfolio of activities. It therefore unanimously nominated Alberto CASADO to the new position of Vice-President in charge of all patent granting activities, supervising 3 Chief Operating Officers and roughly 5000 examiners and formalities officers. The Council also took the opportunity to bid farewell to the long-serving Vice-President DG1, Guillaume MINNOYE, who is retiring on 30 June after an outstanding career.
The Council further noted the oral reports from the chairpersons of its various advisory bodies on their recent meetings: Patent Law Committee, Technical and Operational Support Committee, Boards of Appeal Committee, Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security, Budget and Finance Committee and Select Committee. In respect of the latter, it was informed by the chairman and by the delegations of Malta and Estonia, being the countries holding until 30 June and from 1 July the Presidency of the EC, about the latest developments and progress on the Unitary Patent in the participating Member States, including the particular events in the United Kingdom and Germany.
The Council then proceeded with a series of appointments and elections. It firstly unanimously elected Christoph ERNST (DE) to become Chairman of the Council for 3 years, starting on 1 October 2017. It then re-appointed one member of the Board of Auditors, Ola HOLLUM (NO). The Council also decided to re-appoint to the Boards of Appeal only those persons put forward for re-appointment.
The Council also agreed the procedure for designating the deputy of the President of the Boards of Appeal and took note of the intended procedure to handle after-service activities of former members of these Boards. Finally the Council unanimously endorsed the proposal prepared by its Chairman regarding the procedural preparations for the election of the future President of the Office to take office on 1 July 2018.
Under the heading Legal and International Affairs, the Council took note of the significant development of validation agreements and endorsed the requests of Brunei and Angola to enter into negotiations on a validation agreement. It then had a broad exchange of view on the exclusion from patentability of plants and animals produced by essentially biological processes, complementing the discussion in the latest Committee on Patent Law and reflecting inter alia the recent production by the European Commission of a Notice on the issue. The Council approved the Office proposal to amend the EPC Implementing Regulations in order to ensure very swiftly as much harmonization and legal certainty as possible. It further took note of the forthcoming adjustments of the Examination Guidelines, as a consequence of this decision, and indicated that it will revert to the issue in due course, when experience is gathered with the new provisions.
Turning to matters concerning the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS), the Council welcomed the outstanding results achieved by the Administrator and his team in 2016, and decided to defer its decision on the new proposals for a revised composition and competence profile of the RFPSS Supervisory Board. It gave the Board 28 a mandate to examine the question in collaboration with the President of the Office.
In personnel matters, the Council welcomed the comprehensive and balanced proposal for revised Service Regulations, covering the standards of conduct and ethics and the reform of the internal justice system, as a step forward in improving the social situation. It thus unanimously adopted the proposal and indicated that a review of the progress achieved should take place in due course i.e. within 2 to 3 years from now, based on experience gathered in the meantime.
The Council then unanimously approved the Financial Statements for 2016, together with the Board of Auditors' annual report on the 2016 accounting period, and discharged the President of the Office and the Administrator of the RFPSS. It further delivered a positive opinion on the initial 2018 budgetary orientations including the Office proposal concerning the freeze of the inflation-related fee adjustment.
In addition, the Council decided that the first ever annual report on quality, as well as the annual social report, should be tabled for discussion in its October meeting.
Finally the Administrative Council paid tribute to Jesper KONGSTAD, who served as its Chairman for more than 7 years and will step down on 30 September, and also bid farewell to the head of the Swedish delegation, Susanne ÅS SIVBORG.
The Administrative Council held its 151st meeting in Munich on 15 and 16 March 2017, with Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent Office, in the chair.
After the Chairman's activities report, covering in particular the last meeting 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.
The Council had an exchange of views on the social situation at the Office and on the issue of the appointment procedure for the next President.
The Council re-elected the chairman of the Committee on Patent Law, Sean Dennehey (GB), for a term of three years. It then made three appointments to the Supervisory Board of the Academy of the European Patent Organisation and a number of appointments and reappointments to the Boards of Appeal.
Lastly, the Council heard brief oral reports on the unitary patent by the Maltese delegation representing the country holding the EU presidency in the first half of 2017, as well as by the representative of the European Commission and the chairman of the Select Committee.