The EPO has a long history of co-operation with international governmental and non-governmental organisations outside the patent system itself. Our activities in this area are designed to support innovation and competitiveness for the benefit of Europe and make our vast stock of technological knowledge available for the purposes of informed public debate and policy-making.
We have had a liaison office in Brussels since 1993. We provide the European Commission with multifaceted support and we are getting ready for the introduction of the unitary patent, which we will grant and administer under the relevant EU regulations.
Using our experience of analysing patent statistics to highlight the role of patents as an economic tool, we work together with the OECD to investigate how the patent system contributes to the dynamics of knowledge creation.
The OECD has also been involved, along with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), in an empirical study we carried out on the relationship between patents and the development and transfer of clean-energy technologies. One result of this project was the creation of a classification scheme for patent documents relating to such technologies.
We also work closely with international standardisation organisations. For example, we have co-operated with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU),
the IEEE Standards Association, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on the public availability of telecommunication standards. The use of these standards in the patenting process is a further step towards improving the quality of the patent system.