17 November 2017
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This year's meeting of the US Bar-EPO Liaison Council, a forum to facilitate informal exchanges with US applicants, took place at the EPO's Munich headquarters on 15 November. Consisting of representatives of IP special-interest groups and IP sections of State Bar associations, the Council provides the EPO and US Bar representatives with an excellent opportunity to discuss contemporary issues in the patent system and to address questions of mutual interest. For the EPO, it is also a valuable opportunity to present recent developments at the EPO and gather feedback from US users, currently the EPO's largest origin of patent applications.
The agenda covered a wide range of issues. EPO President Benoît Battistelli gave an overview of recent developments, highlighting in particular the role of the EPO as a global player and the activities of the Office in the area of international cooperation. The President also outlined the EPO's ongoing initiatives to enhance timeliness and quality. Participants expressed their high appreciation of the Office's continuous efforts to improve its performance and timeliness, while continuing to improve quality further. The participants also showed great interest in current efforts to establish the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court.
Discussions also focussed on developments in the area of the Patent Cooperation Treaty and cooperation among the IP5, the forum of the five largest intellectual property offices, with US practitioners giving positive feedback on tools such as the Global Dossier. The good progress of work on procedural and substantive patent law harmonisation within the IP5 Patent Harmonisation Experts Panel (PHEP, a technical body of the IP5) and the Group B+ was reviewed. Finally, participants had an exchange of views on special areas of European practice including the patenting of biotechnological inventions in Europe.
Feedback from US Bar members revealed that the meeting had helped them deepen their understanding of European patent practice and they welcomed the possibility of another such meeting in 2018.