The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 162nd meeting in Munich on 11 and 12 December 2019 under the chairmanship of its Chairman, Josef KRATOCHVÌL (CZ).
The agenda included several items of high significance, in particular:
The Council noted the activities report of its Chair, as well as the reports of the respective chairmen of the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC), the Committee on Patent Law (CPL), the Technical and Operational Steering Committee (TOSC), the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds on Pension and Social Security (RFPSS SB), and the report of the deputy chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Academy (A/SB).
The President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS, provided the Council with an extensive oral report on the achievements to date under each of the five main goals of the Strategic Plan 2023. The Council expressed its high appreciation for the results and clear reporting, and transmitted its warm thanks to all staff.
Turning to 2020 the Council gave a unanimous favourable opinion to the annual work plan, the first of its kind, and complimented the Office for pursuing ambitious targets which it found inspiring. The Council also approved the orientations for recruitment and for the new IT projects to be developed in the context of the cooperation with the Member States.
On building matters the Office presented its preferred scenarios, priorities and time-line. Following a broad exchange of views on the merits and issues arising from the document and an intervention by the chairman of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BoAC), the Council welcomed in particular the overall approach, the additional information provided and the assurance that individual project decisions will be submitted to its approval. It unanimously endorsed the proposal to further develop the scenarios recommended by the Office. It also approved the proposed sequence of projects, and noted the estimated project costs and timelines calculated in the feasibility studies.
Turning to budgetary and financial matters, the Council unanimously approved the draft Budget and table of posts for 2020 as well as the budget estimates for the four following years. It further endorsed the actuarial valuation and the measures proposed regarding pension contribution rates, the yearly outcome of applying the salary method and further financing measures taken in the field of pensions. The Council also had a broad exchange of views on the package of fee-related measures, including the inflation-based biennial fee adjustment, simplification of fees, further alignment of the European and PCT fees, creation of incentives for applicants to enhance quality and efficiency, increase of the appeal fee and further refunds for withdrawals. This package was unanimously adopted.
On long-term financial sustainability, the Council was presented with a list of possible measures identified by an external consultant, as well as with the position of the Office on the best way ahead, the consultations planned, the time-lines for submitting proposals and for implementation. The Council highlighted its strong preference for a safe approach i.e. selecting the prudent “base scenario 2” including a buffer, resulting in an overall financial gap of EUR 5.8 bn. The documents received a unanimous favourable opinion.
Turning to the draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Administrative Council and the Office, the Council expressed its large support for the proposal and welcomed the very collaborative process between its Chair, the President of the Office, the President of the Boards of Appeal, and the chairman of the BoAC. The Memorandum was acknowledged to strike the right balance between different needs and allow in particular better support of the Council on legal matters.
Finally, the Council took a number of decisions on individual positions, hence:
Last but not least, the Council expressed its high gratitude and paid special tribute to his Honorary Chairman, former Chairman, first chairman of the BoAC and long-standing member, Roland GROSSENBACHER (CH), at the occasion of his retirement.
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 161st meeting in Munich on 9 October 2019 under the chairmanship of its Chairman, Josef KRATOCHVÌL (CZ).
The Council noted the exhaustive report given by the President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS, on his activities. Following a broad exchange of views, the Council expressed its high appreciation for the Office’s achievements and also for the new configuration of such reporting, which was now linked to the five goals of the Strategic Plan 2023.
The Council also noted the report of the President of the Boards of Appeal (BOA) covering all main aspects of the boards’ activities for the first 6 months of 2019, and praised the BOA’s successful achievements.
The Council further noted the report from the Chair of the Boards of Appeal’s Committee on its 7th meeting. Furthermore, meeting in confidential session, the Council addressed the conditions for future membership in the European Patent Organisation.
The Council took a number of decisions on individual positions, hence re-appointing Habip ASAN (TR) as chairman of the Technical and Operational Support Committee, Carlos GONCALVES DE MELO MARINHO (PT) and Gabriella MUSCOLO (IT) as alternate members of the Boards of Appeal Committee, as well as Guus BROESTERHUIZEN (NL) and Darina KYLIÁNOVÁ (SK) as members of the Appeals Committee. It appointed Mr Pascal FAURE (FR) as member of the Board 28, and decided on appointments, reappointments and promotions to and in the Boards of Appeal.
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 160th meeting in Munich on 26 and 27 June 2019 under the chairmanship of its Chairman, Josef KRATOCHVIL (CZ).
The Council noted the oral report given by the President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS, on his activities. The major achievements of the Office in the 1st half 2019 were highlighted, together with key aspects of the yearly Social Report, Quality Report and Environmental Report. The President also reported on developments in the field of IT, Cooperation and major achievements which attracted public attention and praise, such as the Inventor of the Year ceremony. The Council congratulated the President and the staff on the recent achievements and the information provided, and welcomed the focus placed on quality.
The Council was also walked by the Office through the details of the new 2023 Strategic Plan, a document to which many delegations had contributed. The five strategic goals proposed have the ambition to help the Office to continue delivering high quality services to its users, while also becoming more adaptable and sustainable. Following a very broad exchange of views, where it could express its support to go-ahead, its preferences, additional suggestions and reservations on certain specific aspects, the Council unanimously approved the Strategic Plan. The specific projects and programs would be submitted for approval in the next meetings of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Administrative Council.
The Office submitted for information the Building investment programme, highlighting in particular the business objectives, the preservation of asset value, the potential for cost savings and improvement of the environmental footprint. The Council welcomed the document and understood that for each project underlying this programme, a comprehensive document would be submitted.
The Council unanimously approved the revised Rules of procedure of the Boards of Appeal, which had previously been adopted by the Boards of Appeal Committee, as well as a set of amendments proposed on the occasion of the periodical review of the Service Regulations and the implementing rules thereto.
Regarding legal and international affairs the Council unanimously authorised the President to conclude a validation agreement with Georgia.
In respect of staff matters and social dialogue, the Office noted the presentation and conclusions of the Staff Engagement survey, carried out by external consultants earlier in 2019.
The Council took a number of decisions on individual positions, hence unanimously appointing Mr Peter SLATER (UK) as deputy chairman of the Technical and Operational Support Committee, Mr Derk-Jan de GROOT (NL), Mr Colin BIRSS, Mr Klaus BACHER and Mr Are STENVIK as members of the Boards of Appeal Committee, and Mr Jorma LEHTONEN (FI) as member of the Supervisory Board of the Academy. The Council otherwise decided a number of appointments and re-appointments to the Boards of Appeal.
The Council further noted the oral reports from the chairpersons of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security, and heard the report of the Romanian delegation on Unitary Patent and related developments, Romania being the country holding until 30 June the Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Turning to budgetary and financial matters, the Council firstly welcomed a Financial Study by external consultants, presenting the key developments which had determined the Office's financial situation since 2016, the time of the previous financial study. It then welcomed the good results achieved by the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) in 2018, in spite of volatile markets, and discharged the Funds Administrator. The Council then unanimously approved the Financial Statements for 2018, together with the Board of Auditors' annual report on the 2018 accounting period, and discharged the President of the Office. It further delivered a positive opinion on the initial 2020 budgetary orientations
Finally, the Council warmly took leave of Ms Alicja ADAMCZAK, the long-standing head of the Polish delegation.
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 159th meeting in Munich on 27 and 28 March 2019 under the chairmanship of Josef KRATOCHVIL (CZ).
After noting the activities report of its Chairman, the Council noted and commented very positively on the activities report given by the President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS. The President reported on developments of the Strategic Plan and thanked the Member States for their contributions. The new Vice-President DG1 presented an overview of the main operational activities of the Office in 2018. The President also reported on progress with Social Dialogue and thanked the Council for the very good words to all staff, which he would transmit.
The President of the Boards of Appeal, Carl JOSEFSSON informed the Council in the context of his annual management report about the successful implementation of the structural reform of the Boards of Appeal. The Council also commented very positively on the report and staff performance.
The Council further noted oral reports from the chairpersons of the Committee on Patent Law, the Boards of Appeal Committee and the Select Committee. The Council also heard the report of the Romanian delegation on Unitary Patent and related developments, Romania being the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the first half of 2019.
On Legal and International Affairs, many delegations expressed their concern with regard to the legal uncertainty caused by decision T 1063/18 of a technical board of appeal on plant patentability. The need for legal certainty in the interests of the users of the European patent system and the general public was strongly underlined in the debate. The Council addressed the recent legal developments and the different potential options for the way forward. In particular, it broadly supported a referral to be submitted to the Enlarged Board of Appeal, as announced by the President.
The Council took a number of decisions on individual positions, hence appointing:
The Council then unanimously decided on a series of re-appointments and appointments in the Boards of Appeal as well as promotion and non-promotions;
Lastly, turning to building matters, the Council unanimously approved an extension in space of the lease agreement for building 8inOne in the location of the Boards of Appeal in Haar.