168th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 13 October 2021)
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 168th meeting as an e-meeting on 13 October 2021 under its Chairperson Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ).
The Council approved the following appointments:
- Firstly, the re-appointment of Mr Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ) as Chairperson of the Administrative Council for a further three-year mandate;
- Re-election of Mr Johannes KARCHER (DE) as Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Patent Law Committee for a further three-year mandate;
- Appointment of Mr Jorma HANSKI (FI) as member of BOAC for a further period of three years;
- Re-appointments of Sir Nicholas FORWOOD (UK) as Chairperson, Mr Markus MOHLER (CH) as Alternate Chairperson, as well as Ms Alicja ADAMCZAK (PL), Mr Simon THORLEY (UK), Mr Peter Hendrik BLOK (DK) and Mr Lanfranco TENAGLIA (IT) as members of the Disciplinary Committee established by the Administrative Council for a further mandate of two years;
- Re-appointment of Mr Tom FEARNLEY (NO) as member and Deputy Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of the RFPSS for a further mandate of three years;
- Appointment of Ms Sonya Anne BRANDER (UK/CA) as Chairperson of the Appeals Committee to deal with appeals against individual decisions taken by the Administrative Council, for a period of three years.
- The Council also decided on the appointment, re-appointment and promotion of members of the BoA, based on proposals by the President of the Boards of Appeal and on his consultation or recommendations on proposals from the Chairperson of the Council.
The President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS, together with his management team, gave an extensive report on the recent achievements and prominent developments in each of the five main goals of the Strategic Plan 2023. The President highlighted the investments made at multiple levels into the current and future generation of EPO talent, the focus on collaboration and teamwork as key elements to further enhance quality and advances in IT tools. He pointed out in particular the continued improvement of quality metrics in the core business, where consultation with users and stakeholders remained a central pillar to ensure a sustainable European patent system with a global impact, and the Office's plans for external and internal governance. Furthermore, the Council warmly welcomed the presentation by external experts of the first ever consolidated user satisfaction survey through all sectors, which showed highly encouraging results. The Council noted the President's report and congratulated him, as well as Office's management and staff, on continuing to achieve very high standards.
As well as noting its Chairperson's activity report, the Council also heard the report of the Chairperson of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BOAC) and commented positively on the activities report from the President of the Boards of Appeal (BoA) for the first half of 2021. This included the significant recovery in the production and productivity of the BoA over the first six months of 2021, the continuous enhancement of videoconferencing technology for oral proceedings and the exemplary commitment of its staff.
In a move to formalise new working arrangements and allow hybrid (i.e. physical and virtual) meetings, the Council unanimously approved the amendment of Articles 1(4), 7 and 14(5) of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Council.
The proposal to modernise the European Patent Academy also won the Council's approval. This proposal includes measures to update the Academy's training portfolio, its working methods and accountability, and in terms of governance, the transfer of the supervisory function from the former Academy Supervisory Board to the TOSC. Multiple benefits were to be expected from digitalisation and hybrid mode training activities.
The Council noted the ambitious and detailed proposal regarding data protection implementation strategy and planning. It was also made aware of how the EPO, as a socially responsible organisation, is changing the way it works in line with new data protection rules, demonstrating its commitment and duty of care to the Office's staff, users, partners and stakeholders.
Last but not least, the Council welcomed the latest Unitary Patent developments, which pave the way for the UPC/UPP package to become operational in the second half of 2022.
167th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 29 and 30 June 2021)
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 167th meeting as e-meeting under its Chairperson Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ).
The Council was provided with the President's activities report in the form of a comprehensive video, featuring highlights from 2020 and showing the major changes the EPO had gone through, as well as the different ways it managed to make progress regarding the Strategic Plan. The President also highlighted improvements in both quality and timeliness, along with a significant drop in the Office's backlog. The digitalisation of the patent granting process - along with the digital file marketplace, digital file allocation and the digital talent marketplace - have also led to more flexible workload management, greater internal mobility, and efficiency gains. Professional development therefore remained a top priority in 2021, as reflected by the increased online training offering. Several member states congratulated the President, management and staff for the excellent results which showed the Office's resilience, ingenuity and commitment to adapting to the challenges of the pandemic throughout the year.
The Council also noted the reports of its chairperson and of the respective chairpersons of the Budget and Finance Committee, the Technical and Operational Support Committee, and the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS).
The Office presented an orientation document "Towards a New Normal", outlining how it can adjust to the new normal to continue delivering on its commitment to excellence. The document contains strategic orientations for increasing flexibility, collaboration and a sense of community at the EPO. After a lively debate in which some member states called for a cautious approach, the Council gave a unanimously favourable opinion. The Council also discussed and noted the Office's approach to revising its medium-term building investment strategy in the light of the new normal.
The Council addressed several other important items, and approved:
- The education and childcare benefits reform which, by introducing a fair and straightforward scheme, is to benefit all EPO parents and their children regardless of nationality, maintain the EPO's attractiveness, ease administration, and increase acceptance;
- The new data protection rules, endowing the Office with a solid and future-proof system of data protection on a par with the data protection standards of other international organisations including the EU.
Regarding financial matters, having noted the opinion of the Board of Auditors, the Council approved their report as well as the EPO's accounts for 2020. It lauded the Office's prudent approach to its planning assumptions in 2022, which take the impact of the pandemic into consideration. Thanks to its cautious recruitment policy and the positive contribution made by the bundle of financial measures, the Office forecasted a positive net result for 2022.
The Council also took note of the latest developments regarding the Unitary Patent.
Finally, in a closed session, it took a number of decisions on staff matters, and particularly on the appointment, re-appointment and promotion of several BoA members and chairpersons based on proposals by the President of the Boards of Appeal made after consulting him, or on proposals from the Chairperson of the Council.
166th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 23 March 2021)
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 166th meeting as an e-meeting on 23 March under its Chairperson Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ).
The President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS, provided the Council with an extensive report on the Office's performance under each of the five main goals of the Strategic Plan 2023, as well as some information on preparations for the new normal and the launch of the consultation of external stakeholders. The Council noted with satisfaction the President's report and congratulated and thanked the management and the staff of the Office on the continuing excellent results obtained.
The Council noted the activities report of its Chairperson and the report of the Chairperson of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BOAC), as well the management report of the President of the Boards of Appeal (BoA). The Council commented very positively on the results achieved by the BoA.
The Council then unanimously approved the amendment to the Rules of Procedure of the BoA namely the insertion of new Article 15a which clarifies that the Boards of Appeal may hold oral proceedings pursuant to Article 116 EPC by videoconference.
Finally, it took the following decisions on individual positions:
- Re-appointment of Mr Thomas GROFFMANN (DE) as Fund Administrator for a further five-year period
- Re-appointment of Mr Antti RIIVARI (FI) as Chairperson of the Committee on Patent Law Committee for a further three-year mandate
- Appointment of Mr Johannes Christian WICHARD (DE) and Ms Catherine CHAMMARTIN (CH) as members of the Board of the Administrative Council for a three-year term
- Re-appointment of Mr Peter STRÖMBERG (SE) as alternate external member of BOAC for a further period of three years and appointment of Mr Julyan ELBRO (UK) as alternate member of the BOAC for a period of three years
- Appointment of Ms Isabel SERIÑÁ RAMÍREZ (ES) as deputy member of the Academy of the European Patent Organisation for a period of three years
- Appointment of Mr Margus VIHER (EE) as alternate member of the Supervisory Board of the RFPSS.
The Council also decided on the appointments, re-appointments and promotions of several members of the BoA, based on proposals by the President of the BoA and on his consultation or recommendations on proposals from the Chairperson of the Council.
It further noted the latest developments regarding the Unitary Patent.
The President of the European Patent Office and the Council then bid farewell to Mr Herman PHÁLEN, long-standing member of the Swedish delegation.
Lastly, the Council paid tribute to the memory of Prof Dr Otto LEBERL, former Chairperson of the Council, who recently passed away.