12 September 2019
Led by President António Campinos, an EPO delegation which included Nellie Simon, Vice-President Corporate Services, and Christoph Ernst, Vice-President for Legal and International Affairs, visited Sweden, Finland and Denmark. In all three countries, the EPO delegation met with the national intellectual property (IP) offices and key stakeholders, including major applicants, patent law firms, research institutions and business associations.
The EPO President used the opportunity offered by these meetings to present the main features of the EPO's Strategic Plan 2023 and to gather feedback from users on how they think the patent system should develop in the future. Among the topics addressed were the quality, timeliness and flexibility of the patent procedure, as well as the challenges and opportunities posed by digitalisation, artificial intelligence, and the rising number of applications from around the world.
Highlighting the strong innovative potential of the Nordic countries, the EPO President underlined the importance of providing the best services and further improving the support to inventors and industry. He also explained the role of European co-operation in achieving this: "Our stakeholders want to see that above all we're taking care of quality," Mr Campinos said. "This is a topic that runs throughout our plans for the next four years: Our primary objective is to sustain the high quality of the products and services - and to improve it further. For this, co-operation with all our member states is essential to develop the European patent network, to make it more responsive to user needs, and to help us deliver effective services."
The EPO also held bilateral meetings with the Swedish, Finnish and Danish national intellectual property offices to discuss how the EPO can further support them in strengthening the local innovation system. They discussed co-operation activities set out in the EPO's Strategic Plan related to IT tools, knowledge sharing, quality and aligning practices. In addition, activities aimed at raising IP awareness among SMEs and researchers, as well as deploying measures that help bring inventions to market were addressed.
Sweden, Finland and Denmark are known for their high levels of innovation and use of intellectual property rights. All three are placed among the top six countries in terms of the number of European patent applications per million inhabitants at the EPO in 2018, and are ranked highest in the European Commission's European Innovation Scoreboard (Sweden is the 2019 EU innovation leader, followed by Finland and Denmark).