175th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 28-29 June 2023)
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 175th meeting in Munich on 28 and 29 June 2023 under its Chairperson Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ) in a hybrid format.
The Council was presented with the Office's activities report in the form of a comprehensive video conveying the major achievements of the past 18 months in the implementation of SP2023. Welcoming the Office’s continued progress over the previous year, the Council also noted the presentation of the very positive results of the 2022/2023 User Satisfaction Survey. Many delegations and observers congratulated the President, management and staff for the remarkable achievements, including the successful launch of the Unitary Patent. In the course of a rich exchange of views, delegations discussed various aspects of the Office’s reporting, patent quality and the New Ways of Working. They praised the Office’s strategic approach and the Office’s commitment to quality. They also saluted the EPO’s environmental and financial sustainability.
Turning to strategic decisions, the Council unanimously approved the amendments to its Rules of Procedure and to the composition of its Board as part of the modernisation of the EPO’s external governance proposed by the Chairperson, and noted the working arrangements for the preparation, organisation and conduct of the meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies. Meeting in closed session, it also expressed its views on the implementation of further measures and gave guidance for the next steps.
Turning to future appointments and selections, the Council unanimously decided to re-appoint Mr Pascal FAURE (FR) as Chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee. Furthermore, meeting in closed session, the Council unanimously decided to re-appoint Mr Michel LIND (NL) as external member and as Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) and to approve the launch of a call for candidates for a new French-speaking auditor of the Board of Auditors in June 2023, as well as the composition of the corresponding selection board.
The Council unanimously approved:
- the draft working agreement on search co-operation with Slovenia and authorised its conclusion and signature by the President;
- the further development of the career system for members and chairs of the Boards of Appeal (BoA).
The Council also noted the future outlook of the premises of the EPO sub-office in Berlin and welcomed the additional information provided in the course of the debate.
Turning to financial matters, the Council noted the opinion of the Board of Auditors and approved their report, along with the EPO's accounts for 2022 and therefore, discharged the President under Article 80(5) FinRegs and the Fund Administrator under Article 7(1) RFPSS Regs and Article 80(4) FinRegs. It also gave a unanimous favourable opinion on the initial budgetary orientations for 2024.
Furthermore, the Council noted the reports of the respective Chairpersons of the Select Committee, the Technical and Operational Support Committee, the Budget and Finance Committee, and of the RFPSS Supervisory Board - with the complementary presentation by the Fund Administrator. As regards the latest developments concerning the Unitary Patent, the Council noted the oral report by the Office on the intake of the Unitary Patent system during the first weeks since its launch, as well as the oral report by the Deputy Chairperson of the UPC Administrative Committee, together with the detailed update on the EPC 50th anniversary celebrations in the form of a video provided by the Office.
Finally, the Council decided on the appointment, re-appointment and promotion of members of the Boards of of Appeal and of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, based on proposals by the President of the Boards of Appeal.
29th meeting of the Select Committee of the Administrative Council (Munich, 31 May 2023)
The Select Committee of the European Patent Organisation held its 29th meeting in Munich in hybrid mode on 31 May 2023 under its Chairperson Mr Jérôme DEBRULLE (BE).
At the opening of the meeting, the Chairperson and EPO Vice-President for Legal and International Affairs Christoph Ernst highlighted the importance of the historical event represented by the entry into application of the two EU regulations on the Unitary Patent protection and the entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on 1 June 2023.
The Committee then first saluted the comprehensive update provided by the Office on the Unitary Patent package (UPP) related supporting activities and thanked the Office for the careful organisation of the UPP launch event. It also welcomed the successful promotion of the EPO’s transitional measures to support users in the early uptake of the Unitary Patent and the Office’s commitment to continuing to provide users with the flexibility to file requests for unitary effect at an early stage.
Secondly, the Committee was provided with an update on the national measures accompanying the implementation of the European patent with unitary effect, and acknowledged the very positive feedback received from users of the related EPO booklet. The Committee took note of the subsequent actions planned also on the basis of the information provided by the member states concerned.
Furthermore, the Committee noted the update provided by the Office and the representative of the Commission following the signature of the working arrangement with the European Commission under Article 14 Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012 on 22 February 2023.
Finally, the Committee unanimously approved the introduction of a data protection framework for the Select Committee of the Administrative Council.
In closing, the Committee noted the Chairperson’s proposal to plan a meeting in the autumn, principally for the purposes of delivering an opinion on the budget related to the Unitary Patent.
174th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 22 March 2023)
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 174th meeting in Munich on 22 March 2023 under its Chairperson Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ) in a hybrid format using for the first time Zoom together with Linkando as voting tool.
The Council was presented with an extensive report on the Office’s activities, featuring a goal-by-goal update on progress in the first quarter of 2023 and the approaching completion of SP2023. The Council, together with the Chairperson and the President of the Office, thanked staff for their engagement and results. The Council then praised the Office’s continuous efforts towards long-term sustainability, its agile recruitment strategy, the numerous initiatives undertaken in particular in the area of digital transformation, and the continued focus on quality and timeliness in the patent granting process. Delegations also welcomed the Office’s focus on supporting micro entities and SMEs and the fee policy review, the Office’s fruitful co-operation with national offices and its continued dialogue with users. The Council also noted the management report of the President of the Boards of Appeal (PBoA) for 2022 and warmly thanked the Board’s staff for their outstanding results.
Turning to key strategic decisions, the Council:
• meeting in closed session, gave a favourable opinion to the Basket 1 of measures for the modernisation of the EPO's external governance proposed by the Chairperson
• approved the introduction of a data protection framework for the Administrative Council and its subsidiary bodies.
Turning to future appointments and selections, meeting in closed session, the Council took note of the future steps regarding appointment and re-appointment at the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) and at the Board of Auditors respectively.
The Council subsequently discussed several other matters and unanimously approved the recommendation for a common practice as regards claim drafting and structure, as well as the recommendation for a common practice as regards the examination of computer-implemented inventions and artificial intelligence.
Furthermore, the Council noted the reports of the respective Chairpersons of the Committee on Patent Law and of the Boards of Appeal Committee. An update on Unitary Patent (UP) protection was given by the Swedish delegation on behalf of the country holding the EU presidency for the first half of 2023 and by the Chairperson of the Select Committee. The Council in particular took note of the recent adjustment of the date of the upcoming meeting of the Select Committee in spring of 2023.
Finally, the Council decided on the appointment, re-appointment and promotion of members of the Boards of Appeal, based on proposals by the PBoA.
In closing, the Council and the President congratulated the AC Deputy Chairperson, Ms Borghildur ERLINGSDÓTTIR (IS), for chairing part of the AC meeting and reflecting the importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Organisation.