9 December 2020
Co-operation between the EPO and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) was on the agenda yesterday at the 60th session of OAPI's Administrative Council, held in Lomé, Togo and also virtually.
In a video message to the meeting, EPO President António Campinos paid tribute to the close co-operation between the EPO and OAPI going back many years, and underlined that during the pandemic co-operation is proving more important than ever to support innovators, and ensure the patent system is a tool for economic growth, employment and trade for our regions.
The OAPI Council addressed progress on ratification of the revised Bangui Agreement, the treaty of 1977 that established the organisation, with several additional countries, notably Chad, Guinea Bissau and Togo, officially depositing their instruments of ratification. Entry into force of the revised Bangui Agreement is a prerequisite for the signing of a possible validation agreement between the EPO and OAPI in future. A validation agreement would enable OAPI to become the first international organisation to make use of the highly effective European patent procedure on behalf of its 17 member states, which together represent a market of some 280 million people.
Progress towards a validation agreement was also discussed by EPO President Campinos and OAPI Director General Denis L. Bohoussou at a bilateral meeting on 16 November. During the meeting, held by videoconference, the two heads also spoke about the latest developments at their offices, and progress on joint projects such as training and IT tools. The EPO highlighted its commitment to enhance the comprehensive legal, administrative and technical co-operation with OAPI and its member states in 2021, in order to work towards a high-quality global patent system and support local innovation.