19 December 2022
On 2 December 2022, President Campinos began his mission to Africa, which included visits to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Cameroon.
The first part of the mission included a visit to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC, the IP office of South Africa) where the President held a bilateral meeting with the CIPC Commissioner Adv. Rory Voller, after which the respective office heads signed the new 2022-2024 Biennial Work Plan. Under the new plan, the EPO will continue to support the CIPC in building capacity in search and examinations to transition from the current depository system to one where patent applications are progressively examined substantively, if possible, based on previously issued EPO work products.
The President also had the opportunity to meet with the South African institute of patent attorneys who have an active participation in the Experiential Learning Programme on the substantive search and examination process established with the support of the EPO. The President thanked them for their contribution towards building a sustainable and robust patent system that will provide legal certainty for users.
On 6 December, the President travelled to Zimbabwe and took part in a bilateral meeting with the ARIPO DG, Mr Bemanye Twebaze, where they shared updates on the latest developments within their respective offices and discussed new areas of co-operation. The President and the DG provided the opening remarks at the PATLIB Seminar jointly organised with ARIPO and co-sponsored by the EU-funded co-operation project AfrIPI. The Heads also participated in a roundtable discussion on the Knowledge Transfer to Africa (KT2A), an initiative launched by the EPO in support to the participating universities.
The final leg of the President's mission was dedicated to the 62nd regular session of the OAPI Administrative Council held in Douala, Cameroon, on 8 December 2022. The President took the floor in the opening ceremony, which followed on from discussions earlier this year, where the President and OAPI DG agreed that the President would address the AC in person on the proposed Validation Agreement with the EPO. The President underlined the value that the Validation Agreement holds for users, the OAPI, and the OAPI Member States. President Campinos also had the opportunity to meet with other members of the AC and Ministers of Guinea Bissau and Equatorial Guinea to discuss capacity-building initiatives on IP in these Lusophone countries in the region.
Overall, the mission to Africa was a great success, with the EPO building upon already solid ties with our African partners, and forging new paths based on cooperation, now, and into the future.