As the EPO's main advisory body, SACEPO is consulted on all major
issues relating to the development of the European patent system. These can range
from broad European and international reforms - such as introduction of the Unitary
Patent, reform of the EPO boards of appeal, revision of the EPC, PCT reform and
substantive patent law harmonisation - to more practical questions concerning
the European patent grant procedure, such as changes to the EPC Implementing Regulations,
EPO fee policy, revision of the Guidelines for Examination, and other important
projects such as Early Certainty from Search and Examination.
Regular consultation of SACEPO ensures that proposed changes
to European patent law and practice are seen from the perspective of the users
and debated in a thorough and balanced way prior to implementation.
Its functions are of purely advisory nature.
The main SACEPO committee
- which held its 50th meeting in June 2018 - is composed of 30 high-level
practitioners with extensive experience in the field, appointed by the EPO President
either ad personam or on a proposal from
epi or BusinessEurope. In addition, over
the years, SACEPO has set up five smaller working parties to address particular
Party on Quality (SACEPO/WPQ) concerns itself with quality matters in the patent
grant process, with a particular focus on the EPO's ISO 9001-certified Quality
Management System. It meets once a year, with representatives from major user
associations providing feedback on new initiatives and the EPO's annual quality
Party on e-Patent-Process (SACEPO/ePP) focuses on operational matters relating
to the EPO's e-business projects, whether concerning electronic aspects of the
grant procedure or customer services in the patent-information field. User
representatives on this working party include applicants, patent attorneys and
experts from formalities bodies and billing centres.
Party on Rules (SACEPO/WPR) and the Working
Party on Guidelines (SACEPO/WPG) are composed of members nominated by epi and BusinessEurope and are
consulted, respectively, on proposed changes to the EPC Implementing
Regulations and on the annual revision of the Guidelines for Examination.
Party on Patent Documentation and Information (SACEPO/PDI) is composed of
experts from patent documentation centres and libraries, experts from industry,
and patent attorneys. It meets once a year at the EPO's Vienna sub-office,
providing members with updates on the EPO's products, services and future
projects in the field of patent information.