EPO-OBI team at the Athens Marathon
Fairness, diversity and inclusion, collaboration, accessibility and pushing boundaries - these principles extend far beyond the athletics track. They apply for the EPO’s daily work and our cooperation with 39 member states and our partners. As part of the activities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the European Patent Convention, the EPO joined runners from the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation (OBI) in Greece to run the Athens Marathon, the Authentic!
Thank you to our Greek colleagues for suggesting this initiative.
Sport is thrilling to watch and even more exciting to play. But have you ever wondered about the technology behind you favourite footwear, clothes, devices or safety gear? These are just some of the inventors whose work makes sport safer, more inclusive and enjoyable for fans and participants alike.
Best foot forward
American engineer Marion "Frank" Rudy created the world's first shock-absorbing sole system for athletic footwear. Marketed by Nike as the Air system, the technology inspired countless follow-ups by rival shoemakers.
Fiona Fairhurst led a team that spent years developing the perfect swimsuit. The Speedo Fastskin suit has become the silver bullet in professional swimming.
Hugh Herr was a competitive mountain climber until he tragically lost both legs beneath the knees during a mountain expedition. Undeterred, he has pursued his lifelong dream of climbing mountains at an elite level - made possible by his pioneering, intelligent prostheses.
Safety meets style
Protective headgear that is both functional and fashionable is in high demand as the fuel economy and environmental benefits push people to commute by bicycle. The “invisible” bike helmet developed by Swedish designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin is the accessory cyclists have been waiting for.
Additive manufacturing: boosting performance and safety in sport
Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is a fast-moving technology field offering substantial gains in both the design and performance of sports equipment. Every athlete has unique physical requirements and biomechanics. 3D printing allows unparalleled customisation, such as equipment with optimised power-to-weight ratios or components tailored to fit individual geometries. In sports such as motoring racing, use 3D printed components ranging from high-strength, low-weight pistons to more aerodynamic bodywork.
3D printed structures, components and products can also offer greater strength, intricacy and novelty - crucial factors for injury-free performance. Whereas conventional mass-produced sports gear offers limited sizing, 3D printed products can be tailored using scans of an athlete’s hand, foot, limb or head. This helps create the strongest, most light-weight and comfortable gear. Combined with the right kind of structure, optimal shock absorption can also be achieved.
An equitable world: the ultimate goal
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a roadmap for a sustainable and fair future. Sport has a role to play as it brings people from different backgrounds together on a level playing field, transcending barriers and encouraging collaboration. By combing the benefits of physical activity with teamwork, inclusivity and promotion of mutual respect, sport contributes to a wide range of goals including SDG 3 (health), SDG 5 (gender equality) and SGD 16 (peaceful and inclusive societies).
About the EPO
With 6,300 staff members, 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 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.
About the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation (OBI)
The Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation (OBI) has been operating since 1988 and is the only legally qualified institution in Greece for the protection of patents, trademarks and industrial designs. It also provides important technological information services from worldwide patent databases. OBI operates Regional Sub-offices in Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Volos, Ioannina, East Macedonia / Thrace (Xanthi, Komotini), aiming to provide information and personalized assistance on industrial property protection and research results and to promote the technological information in the greater Greek region.