Report on the 159th and 160th meetings of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (27 and 28 March 2019 and 26 and 27 June 2019 respectively)
The 159th and 160th meetings of the Administrative Council were held in Munich, under the chairmanship of the Chairman, Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ).
The Council took decisions on individual positions, hence appointing
− in its 159th meeting, Ms Borghildur ERLINGSDÓTTIR (IS) as Deputy Chairwoman of the Administrative Council, Ms Katrin AICHINGER (AT) as member of the Supervisory Board of the Academy of the European Patent Organisation, Ms Catherine MARGELLOU (GR) as member of the BOAC, Ms Petra PRESPERÍNOVÁ (SK) as alternate member of the BOAC and Ms Hélène DUBOIS as alternate external member of the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security
− and in its 160th meeting, Mr Peter SLATER (UK) as Deputy Chairman of the Technical and Operational Support Committee, Mr Derk-Jan de GROOT (NL), Mr Colin BIRSS, Mr Klaus BACHER and Mr Are STENVIK as members of the BOAC and Mr Jorma LEHTONEN (FI) as member of the Supervisory Board of the Academy.
The Council otherwise decided on a number of appointments and re-appointments to the Boards of Appeal, as well as promotions of members of these Boards.
In respect of the Office activities and performance, the Council noted the reports given in each meeting by the President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS. The major achievements of the Office in first half 2019 were highlighted, together with key aspects of the yearly Social Report, Quality Report and Environmental Report. The President also reported on developments in the field of IT, co-operation and major achievements which attracted public attention and praise, such as the Inventor of the Year ceremony. The Council congratulated the President and the staff for the recent achievements and the information provided, and welcomed the focus placed on quality. The President of the Boards of Appeal (BOA), Carl JOSEFSSON, informed the Council in the context of his annual management report about the successful implementation of the structural reform of the BOA. The Council also commented very positively on the report and BOA staff performance.
In its 160th meeting the Council unanimously approved the new 2023 Strategic Plan, a document to which many delegations had contributed. The five strategic goals proposed have the ambition to provide the Office with the means to continue delivering high-quality services to its users, while also becoming more adaptable and sustainable. The specific projects and programmes will be submitted for approval in the next meetings of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Administrative Council.
The Office further submitted for information the Building investment programme, highlighting in particular the business objectives, the preservation of asset value, the potential for cost savings and improvement of the environmental footprint.
The Council unanimously approved the revised Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal, which had been adopted by the Boards of Appeal Committee (BOAC), as well as a set of amendments proposed at the occasion of the periodical review of the Service Regulations and the Implementing Rules thereto.
In respect of staff matters and social dialogue, the Council noted the presentation and conclusions of the Staff Engagement survey, carried out by external consultants earlier in 2019. The President underlined the link to the Strategic Plan and that staff engagement was a key performance indicator in the EPO balanced score card.
Turning to budgetary and financial matters, the Council firstly welcomed a Financial Study by external consultants, presenting the key developments which have determined the Office's financial situation since 2016, the time of the previous financial study. It then welcomed the good results achieved by the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) in 2018, in spite of volatile markets, and discharged the Funds Administrator. The Council then unanimously approved the Financial Statements for 2018, together with the Board of Auditors' annual report on the 2018 accounting period, and discharged the President of the Office. It further delivered a positive opinion on the initial 2020 budgetary orientations.
Regarding legal affairs, in the Council's 159th meeting many delegations had expressed their concern with regard to the legal uncertainty caused by decision of a technical board of appeal on plant patentability. The need for legal certainty in the interests of the users of the European patent system and the general public was strongly underlined in the debate. The Council addressed the recent legal developments and the different potential options for the way forward. In particular, it broadly supported a referral to be submitted to the Enlarged Board of Appeal, as announced by the President.
Finally, in its 160th meeting, the Council unanimously authorised the President to conclude a validation agreement with Georgia.
All the documents approved by the Council for publication on a case-by-case basis can be consulted at: