EPO and IEEE Standards Association announce renewed co-operation

11 June 2013

The European Patent Office (EPO) and the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) have renewed their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) confirming their commitment to work together to better serve industry worldwide. The first agreement of this kind between the two organisations was signed in July 2009.

The MoU was signed by the two organisations at the EPO's headquarters in Munich, Germany. Under the terms of the MoU, the two organisations will increase their co-operation in matters of standards and intellectual property (IP) and work closely to identify areas of mutual interest. They also agree to collaborate on IP issues and educational materials relating to standards and patents.

The renewal of the MoU is a further milestone in the long-lasting and fruitful relationship between the IEEE-SA and the EPO. Among a variety of collaborative actions, the IEEE-SA continues to provide its standards development documents and related data to the EPO and confirms that the EPO may use them for the purpose of the patenting process in all its phases, with the aim of maximising patent quality in related areas by improving the identification of relevant prior art for deciding on novelty and inventiveness of patent applications in electronics.

"I am convinced that this closer co-operation between the EPO and the IEEE-SA will help to improve the interface between patents and standards, creating transparency and enhancing the synergy potential between these two key elements of the global knowledge economy," says Raimund Lutz, the EPO's Vice-President for Legal and International Affairs. "In the case of the IEEE-SA, this agreement not only underlines the already existing good co-operation between two key institutions, but also strengthens the EPO's wider strategy in connection with standards."

"Open, voluntary and bottom-up standards serve and even create global markets," says Konstantinos Karachalios, IEEE-SA Managing Director. "They do so through an inclusive and non-discriminatory process, regarding the possibility to participate and co-shape the standard, and the broad affordability of the outcome. The way privately owned technologies are incorporated in such standards is of paramount importance for the affordability of the end product and, thus, a crucial indicator for the real openness of the process. The Memorandum of Understanding between the EPO and IEEE-SA — the first ever concluded between a patent office and a standardization organization — aims exactly at improving the transparency at the interface and the quality of both systems."

As part of its overall strategy, the EPO has been seeking closer involvement with standards organisations in recent years to ensure that the patent system contributes to the promotion of innovation and a healthy, competitive environment for business. For this reason the EPO has concluded similar agreements with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

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