14 November 2018
More than 400 patent professionals from 40 countries gathered at the EPO's 28th annual Patent Information Conference on Monday in Brussels to discuss the latest tools and trends in searching and using information found in patents. The event was opened by EPO President António Campinos, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment, Economy and Consumer Affairs Kris Peeters, and Belgian Director General DG for Economic Regulation Séverine Waterbley.
In his welcome address, Deputy Prime Minister Peeters set the tone for the four-day conference: "An important part of stimulating innovation is protecting innovation. Protecting Intellectual Property is important, which is why it is my great pleasure to welcome you to Brussels."
EPO President Campinos underlined the Office's commitment to supporting the economy and users by providing the highest quality patent information, saying "We know that good Intellectual Property information can drive business and the economy. We don't want to just honour our obligation to publish information, we're committed to bringing you the very best."
The EPO Patent Information Conference is Europe's largest patent information event. Participants, including patent searchers from industry and private practice, experts from patent offices, and providers of commercial patent information services, attended a series of presentations, discussion rounds and training sessions.
The training sessions gave delegates practical advice on a number of subjects including search strategies, understanding patent families, and protection beyond the expiry of a patent after 20 years. The presentations and discussions enabled participants to track key trends and debate the issues that may impact the future. Artificial intelligence, blockchain, software-related inventions, patent analytics, and linked open data were among the topics covered.
Patents are granted in exchange for making inventions public. The publication of patent applications - which is mandatory 18 months after they are filed - provides access for the public to the latest technical developments. The EPO manages the leading database (Espacenet) containing state-of-the-art patent information. We continually add new tools and services to our range of products, some in co-operation with the organisation`s member states and other partner offices. The Office seeks new ways to democratise patent information as it is a valuable resource for inventors and society. Beyond protecting inventions and avoiding legal pitfalls, patent information can be used as a tool to reduce R&D expenditure, identify licensing partners, observe industry trends and keep an eye on competitors. Today anyone can use the EPO's Espacenet database to freely and instantly access over 100 million patent documents from around the globe.
2018 marks a number of anniversaries for the EPO: The birth of INPADOC legal status 40 years ago; the creation of European patent information policy 30 years ago; the launch of Espacenet 20 years ago; and the idea for a federated European Patent Register 10 years ago. Speaking to delegates President Campinos acknowledged these milestones and pledged the EPO's commitment. "We will ensure that your future needs are met in the field of patent information and continue to honour a commitment to you, which began forty years ago."