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6 December 2016
EPO President Benoît Battistelli met with Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Kris Peeters today in Brussels to discuss joint efforts to enhance patent protection and the support for innovation in Belgium and across Europe.
President Battistelli and Minister Peeters also discussed recent developments in the European patent system, including the EPO's future role in the unitary patent system, which could come into operation as early as next year.
Minister Peeters said: "After decades of negotiations, a rapid implementation of a truly unitary European patent is now within reach. This is a giant step forward for businesses and SMEs. The latter will be able to enforce their intellectual property more quickly and easily and, as a result, they will be in a position to further expand their markets in Europe. The previously announced creation of a national division of the Unified Patent Court in Brussels that will operate in four working languages is approaching as well. The European Patent Office will play a crucial role in this success story as it will be responsible for granting the unitary patent. I would like to stress the great importance of an optimal co-operation between the EPO and the Belgian IP Office."
President Battistelli said, "Belgium has played an important role in the development of the unitary patent. The country was among the first member states to have ratified the UPC agreement, having completed the necessary legislative steps in June 2014. Last week's announcement by the UK to continue the ratification process is a landmark development, which now brings the unitary patent and UPC closer to becoming a reality than ever before."
President Battistelli also signed a bilateral co-operation plan with Jean-Marc Delporte, Président du Comité de Direction of the Economy Ministry. Under the plan, the EPO and the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property will co-operate to improve patent-related IT services and tools, focusing on online filing, the exchange of patent data and access to legal status information through the Federated European Patent Register.
"I am delighted to sign this co-operation plan with our Belgian partners," said the EPO President. "We are confident that by working together we can be of service to companies and inventors by enhancing even further the efficiency and quality of our services," he added.
In addition to activities under the bilateral co-operation plan, the EPO is also supporting the Belgian office with the implementation of the Benelux Patent Platform, a common IT system set up by the IP offices of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg to modernise and align their patent-related business processes for the benefit of users.
In 2015, businesses from Belgium filed more than 2 000 patent applications with the EPO. Up by nearly 6% over 2014, this was the steepest growth from Belgium in the past five years, and well above the 0.3% average increase of all EPO member states. Belgium is a founding member of the European Patent Organisation, which has grown from 7 countries in 1977 to 38 member states today.