Patent Knowledge Week highlights role of patent intelligence in supporting sustainable development and SMEs


The EPO welcomed some 1 800 registered participants from 97 countries to this year's Patent Knowledge Week, which took place online from 4 to 7 October. The audience was able to put their questions to speakers, creating a lively and highly informative discussion among patent information specialists, researchers and representatives of universities, SMEs and large corporations, as well as colleagues from the EPO.

The programme included sessions preparing users for the introduction of the Unitary Patent and how to search for related data when it comes into force in spring 2023; the role of patents in supporting sustainable development; patent knowledge for SMEs; and IP knowledge in the post-COVID world. Three patent knowledge clinics catered to the needs of users with all levels of knowledge of the patent system. The clinics covered EPO search tools, EPO bulk data and webservices as well as search basics for leveraging worldwide IP data. They ran in parallel over three days, ensuring that participants could join all three if they wished.

The next generation of innovation

In his welcome speech, EPO Vice President for Patent Granting Process Steve Rowan said: "Patent Knowledge Week is about opportunity. A chance for people from many different backgrounds to come together and share knowledge about patents and innovation. And to focus on the vital role that patents play in promoting scientific research and economic growth that leads to a whole series of benefits for our society."

He stressed that the EPO leads the world when it comes to the creation and sharing of patent knowledge, with more than 130 million records in Espacenet and OPS databases, and over 400 million records in INPADOC, the global legal events database. These vast resources help foster further innovation, enable tools such as the Fighting Coronavirus platform and the planned Clean Energy platform, as well as the publication of studies on the latest technology trends and patent insight reports.

"These are just a few examples of the ways in which we're building knowledge on the foundations of patent information", said Mr Rowan. "Knowledge that will help inventors, businesses, universities and others to create the next generation of innovation and ensure they reap the benefits of the investments they make in research. This will help us to address sustainability and the climate challenge, and it will empower the next generation of innovators in SMEs and start-ups."

Co-operation is key to sustainable innovation

In addition to speakers from the EPO, there were also contributions by representatives of the PATLIB network of patent information centres, WIPO, IP Australia, SME support services, a European Inventor Award finalist and various companies and organisations from throughout Europe. In his keynote speech, Director of the European Innovation Council (EIC) Jean-David Malo drew attention to the impact that co-operation can have on sustainable innovation: 

"EU companies are global leaders on high value green patents and green patents in energy-intensive industry, for example. Not a bad place to be when it is estimated that half of the global reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 will have to come from technologies that are currently at the demonstration or prototype phases. Here we can leverage the EPO's and EIC's expertise and unique position in the innovation ecosystem and I'm very pleased to say that we have made some initial inroads in building links between the two of us."

In his closing speech, EPO Vice-President for Legal and International Affairs Christoph Ernst thanked all participants and said the EPO was pleased to see the high interest in patent and innovation knowledge, adding: "It's been a fantastic event made all the better by your contribution. It allowed us to discuss the present and unveil the future of patent information and valuable use of patent data for the benefit of innovation."

This year's Patent Knowledge Week platform also included an exhibition with 14 commercial providers of patent information products and services, including the EPO itself. Several providers presented their products and services during a dedicated session.

Further information

Explore the complete Patent Knowledge Week recordings, including event highlights

Official event page

EPO Inventor's handbook

EPO information on the Unitary Patent, including the Unitary Patent Guide

PATLIB network

Information for SMEs, including Innovation case studies

European Innovation Council

New European Innovation Agenda