22 July 2021
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As part of the EPO's continuous dialogue with users and user associations across all sectors, the latest in a series of high-level meetings with top applicants, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and high-growth firms (HGFs) took place online on Wednesday 21 July. To date, ten meetings have taken place with key applicants from Asia, Europe and the US, including four of the top ten applicants at the EPO and three SMEs. Several of the meetings were hosted by EPO President António Campinos and further meetings are planned in the course of the year, including with user associations.
The meetings contribute significantly to our wide-ranging user engagement activities and allow the EPO to share directly with applicants the most recent developments at the Office, including those resulting from progress made with implementing our Strategic Plan.
At the same time, the meetings provide an opportunity to gather feedback on the quality of EPO products and services from the architects of IP strategy at some of the world's largest and fastest growing companies. This enables a better understanding of where the Office is meeting users' needs and where there is still room for improvement.
Discussions on the quality of EPO products and services have covered the use of VICO, arising from the pandemic, and improvements in timeliness and the accelerated prosecution of patent applications under the PACE programme. Opportunities for interacting directly and regularly with examiners were cited as highly valuable by users.
The need to simplify and harmonise processes at the EPO, where possible, was emphasised. As an example, the transfer of rights was mentioned, as well as harmonisation within the area of timeliness. The EPO responded that a lot is in the pipeline from our Strategic Plan 2023, and will soon become available to the user community. In terms of transparency in the area of quality, the EPO highlighted the newly published "Quality Report 2020", which is part of the EPO's Annual Review.
Finally, applicants expressed an interest in technical follow-up meetings as well as holding high-level meetings on an annual basis. The meetings, which are set to take place frequently with applicants from all sectors, supplement the Office's comprehensive outreach programme, which includes further regular exchanges with user groups such as epi, Business Europe, SACEPO and AIPPI, among others. The widespread use of online meeting platforms and tools has allowed the EPO to increase its dialogue with its stakeholders, and the Office will explore how to capitalise on the advantages of hybrid meeting environments further as it heads towards a new normal.