Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO)


The Standing Advisory Committee before the European Patent Office (SACEPO) was formed in 1978 on the initiative of the first President of the EPO, Bob van Benthem, to involve user representatives in the development of the European patent system. The regular engagement of external stakeholders in the framework of the SACEPO is a valued part of the EPO’s commitment to transparency. The SACEPO enables the EPO to gather feedback from users to better respond to their needs and remain agile in managing the changing demands and conditions of a dynamic and global patent system. 

Membership is comprised of representatives from leading industrial property associations and industry federations from all over the world, as well as representatives of European and international patent attorney associations. In addition, the President of the EPO also appoints recognised experts in the field of IP law as ad personam members of the SACEPO. Membership has expanded significantly in recent years, and the EPO now welcomes a group of 180 engaged, active and vocal user representatives from all over the world, reflecting the EPO’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The members of the SACEPO are nominated for a three-year term of office. The current term of office runs from 2021 to 2023.

The inaugural meeting of the SACEPO was held on 30 January 1979. Over the years, five Working Parties were established to support the original SACEPO (henceforth called the “Main SACEPO”) in specific areas: Quality, e-Patent-Process, Rules, Guidelines, and Patent Documentation and Information. Currently eight to ten meetings are held each year in Munich, The Hague and Vienna – and most recently also by video-conference. Extraordinary ad hoc meetings and written consultations are organised whenever urgent input from user representatives is needed or an issue of particular importance arises.

Since its formation, the SACEPO has become the tried and tested institutional framework for regular exchanges with user representatives and today forms an integral part of the EPO’s system of governance, contributing to transparency and early involvement of users in the legislative process.

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