17th Annual Meeting with Member States

Group photo of people who attended the 17th Annual Meeting (with Member States)

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The 17th Annual Meeting for the European Patent Network took place in Lisbon from 26 to 27 May, marking the first face-to-face gathering since the shift to digital meetings in 2020. The meeting has provided an invaluable opportunity for national offices to look back on the progress made over the past years and, discuss directions for the future. As the Unitary Patent launch approaches and the European Patent Office continues to evolve, the European Patent Network remains committed to excellence, adaptability, and sustainability in its operations. The Portuguese Minister of Justice, Catarina Sarmento e Castro, was also invited to say a few words.

During the meeting, a wide range of topics were addressed, highlighting the importance of IT cooperation, the activities of the Patent Academy, the upcoming launch of the EPO observatory on Patents and Technology in October, best practices in cooperation, a review of the fee system structure, and the development of the next Strategic Plan for the period 2024 to 2028.

This year's meeting holds particular significance for the European Patent Network as it coincides with the imminent launch of the Unitary Patent, the celebration of 50 years of the patent system, and the final year of the Strategic Plan 2023. 2023 has laid the groundwork for achieving excellence and adapting to become a more sustainable and efficient office. The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have also prompted a deeper reflection on the value of digital and operational channels.

In his opening remarks, EPO President Campinos placed emphasis on the importance of IT cooperation within the European Patent Network. He highlighted the progress made in fostering greater levels of cooperation, coordination, clarity, and coherence in this area: "Our approach has taken us on a collective journey to learn from one another, and progress at an ever-increasing pace".

Looking ahead, the EPO aims to strengthen the European Patent Network through transparent dialogue and improved consistency. Regarding IT cooperation, existing tools will be further implemented, and new functionalities will be introduced to enhance efficiency. Learning and innovation are also key focus areas, with an emphasis on forming impactful partnerships for knowledge and education.

The meeting provided the opportunity to hold discussions on aspirations for the next five years to shape a new vision for the Office into our next Strategic Plan 2028, which is focused on placing sustainable development as the central goal.