5 May 2020
Last week representatives of the EPO's member states, and two future member states discussed their co-operation and how to best serve Europe's innovators during the current crisis at their 14th annual meeting on co-operation.
In his opening address at the conference, which for the first time took the form of a virtual meeting, EPO President António Campinos highlighted the importance of close co-operation in times of unprecedented challenges: "Common challenges need common solutions. It's the very raison d'etre of this organisation. This is a test that we can face, and overcome, together. IP and patents, and IP-intensive industries, have a central role to play in Europe's recovery, by creating jobs, by generating GDP and by boosting our exports. So now - more than ever - we have to support our users."
This year's meeting focused on two topics: the proposal for a new EPO framework for co-operation with its member states, which is planned to be discussed further and put for approval to the Organisation's Administrative Council in June, and sharing offices' experiences in relation to ensuring business continuity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the latter session, the EPO presented the coronavirus-related measures it has taken, as well as the potential areas where co-operation among Europe's patent offices could be most beneficial. In addition to legal and operational aspects, the importance of collaborative and coordinated responses from IT, administrative and HR units was discussed, along with broader socio-economic perspectives. In particular, there was consensus on the pressing need to articulate how the patent system can support the process of recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
Several national offices reported on recent national IP filing trends, the emergency measures they have implemented, and their eagerness to share experiences and lessons learned. It was agreed to explore a coordinated European approach by identifying a set of concrete measures (short- and medium-term) which IP offices can take, with the EPO well-placed as a repository for pooling this knowledge and information.