EPO member states discuss co-operation on patents in Europe at 12th annual meeting

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EPO member states meet in Cyprus

28 May 2018

The European Patent Office and the national patent offices of its 38 member states met in Limassol on 24/25 May to discuss how to advance co-operation in order to improve the quality and efficiency of the European patent system, and better serve inventors and industry.

Ahead of the conference EPO President Benoît Battistelli met with the Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis with a view to strengthen the use of the patent system in Cyprus. Topics included recent developments in intellectual property, such as the role of patent protection in supporting innovation, but also in technology trade and in attracting foreign direct investment.

The unitary patent scheme with its simplified and cost-effective procedures, is set to be a major positive step in the development of the patent system in Europe out of which particularly smaller entities, such as SMEs, start-ups, but also academic institutions will benefit. In this context, improved co-operation between the EPO and DRCOR for ensuring better use of the patent system by SMEs in the future was also discussed.

The 12th annual meeting on co-operation was co-hosted by the EPO and the Cypriot Ministry's Department of the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver, represented by Spyros Kokkinos and Stalo Papaionnou. It was attended by representatives of 37 national patent offices, including the EPO's two extension states, and the EU Intellectual Property Office in an observer capacity.

Opening the meeting, EPO President Benoît Battistelli highlighted the progress and achievements of the "co-operation roadmap" over the past seven years:  "Our co-operation has established itself on a firm footing and has delivered tangible results by working together and exchanging best practices," he said. "Our aim is to provide an effective and user-friendly patent system in Europe, because patents facilitate access to the internal market and add to attracting foreign investments. Patent protection helps to boost the national economy and in particular SMEs to gain more business and markets."

In his speech, Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis reconfirmed that "the EPO's targeted co-operation activities, in support of the services offered to patent system users throughout its member states, are truly invaluable to national institutions." The Minister emphasised that "innovation is key to the success of any enterprise strategy". "Many new industries in Cyprus today are heavily investing in new technologies, and we know that for them patent protection is of enormous commercial significance," he said. 

This year's conference marked the completion of the co-operation roadmap, which was launched in 2012. Since then, the EPO has invested some EUR150 million in joint activities and projects with its member states. The conference was also timed with the 20th anniversary of the accession to the European Patent Organisation of Cyprus, which became a member state in 1998.

The conference also looked at some of the latest economic and technology topics. A number of Cypriot innovation and research initiatives gave presentations on their success in using the patent system, which highlighted the impact of patent protection on trade and investment in the EU market, and with foreign commercial partners. With regards to technology advances, the EPO presented a new service for users that links patent data with other data resources available on the internet, making patent information more accessible to the general public.

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