12 May 2021
On 11 May 2021, 80 representatives of 40 national offices (in 38 EPO member states and two future member states) and the EUIPO met online for the 15th annual meeting on co-operation. Among the delegates were 26 heads of IP Offices.
In his opening address, Vice-President Legal and International Affairs Christoph Ernst highlighted the need to "keep delivering on our co-operation efforts and continue to build a stronger IP system that supports inventors. So IP and innovation can play their part in powering recovery.'' The disruption caused by the pandemic also presented opportunities as the EPO and member states work towards a new normal, said Mr Ernst. He thanked EPO member states for contributing to the public consultation process on the EPO's initial proposals for a new normal ahead of the submission of an orientation document for approval by the Administrative Council.
Further, Mr Ernst stressed the importance of maintaining the momentum gained in European co-operation, and of meeting the broader public's need for transparency: "IP cannot be a discussion that takes place behind closed doors. We ourselves have to provide a platform which allows us to continually evaluate the innovation sector and the patent system in dialogue with other stakeholders. To let the light in. So I think now is precisely the time to push forward with plans for the patent observatory."
The role of knowledge- and work-sharing was underlined in the proceedings as crucial to supporting businesses, researchers and young professionals with unleashing their innovative potential. In addition to discussion of the plans for the EPO Observatory as the European Patent Network's platform for economic and technology analysis, considerable importance was attached to a solid PATLIB 2.0 network for more effective commercialisation of innovation, extending IP outreach and continuing to grow the Pan European Seal programme for trainee IP professionals. The programme now draws upon a larger network of universities than ever before.
The progress that working groups and technical teams have made in IT co-operation was reflected in practical demonstrations of the software developed. Delegates saw and discussed how national offices will benefit from new online services offered via the single access portal, which can now be used to draw up bilateral agreements, and from a search solution based on Ansera. Major advances in the Front Office project were also presented.
Finally, a blueprint for the governance of the European Patent Academy was presented with a view to ensuring excellence in IP education. Participants were also updated on progress made and the next steps planned in the convergence of practices as regards the accordance of a priority date and the re-establishment of rights.