Summit gives new boost to Europe's network of patent information centres

15 May 2019

Breakout session, from left to right: Olli Ilmarinen, Finnish Patent and Registration Office, chair, Jean-Philippe Muller, INPI, Ile de France, France Alban Fischer, Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, Santa Lozda, National Patent Office, Latvia, Igor Bosnjakovic, State Intellectual Property Office, Croatia

At the PATLIB Summit held last week in Porto, representatives of patent information centres from across Europe provisionally adopted a set of recommendations aimed at boosting the EPO's support for the PATLIB Network, and further improving services for companies, researchers and inventors.

In his opening address, EPO President António Campinos highlighted the contribution of Europe's PATLIB centres to innovation in Europe, by providing much needed advice on patents and other IP rights, particularly SMEs and universities, over the past 30 years: "We can now offer patent information services that were simply not possible in the early days of PATLIB," he said. The EPO President also welcomed the strategic summit as a means to assess how the network could become even stronger in future: "This event is our opportunity to explore how PATLIB centres can play a greater role in commercialisation and technology transfer, to help European companies and researchers to exploit the full commercial power of their intellectual property rights."

The recommendations, developed after two days of intensive conference sessions, are contained in a document called the Porto Paper, currently still considered a draft to give delegates time to submit further comments. The recommendations put an emphasis on providing a structural framework for the PATLIB Network, and giving more freedom for the individual PATLIB centres to expand the quality and range of the services they offer.

They include measures such as:

  • defining different levels of PATLIB centres and the requirements for reaching each level
  • putting in place a comprehensive set of training measures
  • providing means for PATLIB centres to develop into IP commercialisation advice centres, and for them to interact with other networks, such as technology transfer centres
  • encouraging experts within PATLIB centres to share their knowledge with other members of the network

There are over 300 patent information centres, also known as PATLIB centres, across the EPO's member states. Together, they form a Pan-European network of IP expertise giving advice and providing services to innovators in SMEs, universities and research institutions, and to individual inventors. The network was formed more than 30 years ago, and the summit was the first event since then to go to the core of its concept, looking at a major revision of the way it works - an initiative dubbed "PATLIB 2.0".

PATLIB 2019 summitThe event brought together some 100 PATLIB centres, national patent offices of the EPO's member states, and a wide range of innovation support experts, including European and international organisations involved in IP, technology transfer and innovation.

Together, they analysed the status quo and the needs of PATLIB centres' users. External experts provided a different perspective, challenging delegates to go beyond their traditional activities and look more closely at areas such as technology transfer and IP in a business context.

"This was an energetic summit with a lot of hope to evolve," said Sander De Vrieze of Belgian research centre Centexbel, one of the participants.

Closing the summit, EPO Vice-President Christoph Ernst said: "We will analyse what the recommendations mean and what options we have for implementing them in a meaningful way that brings true benefits to all PATLIB centres and their users."

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