EPO-JETRO annual meeting

The European Patent Office (EPO) recently hosted the 12th annual meeting with the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) at the EPO's Isar headquarters on Thursday, 14 March. Approximately 15 industry representatives attended the meeting, which was organised in collaboration with the JETRO Düsseldorf network and the Japan Patent Office’s permanent mission to Europe.

In discussions, participants recognised the EPO’s dedication to maintaining the highest quality of products and services. An update was also provided on the recent implementation of the Unitary Patent system since 1 June 2023. To date 22,193 patents have been registered with Unitary effect, including more than 800 from Japanese applicants - an acknowledgement of the trust users place in the high quality search and examination of the EPO.

Particular emphasis was then placed on the support mechanisms for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including fee-related measures and the acceleration of the opposition procedure. Additionally, the introduction of tools like the Deep Tech Finder and the launch of Insight Studies and technology platforms were commended for their positive impact on the patent system. The Deep Tech Finder, by combining business information with patent data, significantly aids investors in identifying promising ventures among over 7,500 European start-ups. Meanwhile, Insight Studies transform patent knowledge into actionable intelligence, equipping decision-makers with expert insights on major trends in critical fields, thereby enabling stakeholders to understand emerging trends better and engage in meaningful debates to find common solutions to shared challenges.

Working together for a sustainable future

The meeting further acknowledged the EPO's alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, underscoring sustainability as a key focus of the Strategic Plan 2028. Discussions extended to the global IP5 agenda, which aims to offer an additional instrument to further foster sustainability.

A notable aspect of the meeting was the recognition of the European patent system’s expanding reach, with the possibility to validate patents in up to 45 countries, and an additional 42 countries re-utilising EPO products through Reinforced Partnerships or the Patent Prosecution Highway – an  expansion that is significantly benefitting global innovation ecosystems with higher quality patents.

After the meeting, the Director General of JETRO Mr. Kazuyoshi Sugano, took the time to answer some questions during an interview with the EPO. You can watch the interview with Mr Sugano and find out how these regular meetings continue to strengthen the established relationships between the EPO and its partners, fostering a collaborative approach to future challenges and opportunities in the patent landscape.