27 April 2023
From left to right: Telmo Vilela, Principal Advisor to the President, António Campinos, President, Christoph Ernst, Vice-President, Gilles Requena, Chief Patent Research and Policy Officer
On 26 April, EPO President António Campinos and Denis Bohoussou, Director General of the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI), met online to discuss strategic developments at both offices since they met in Cameroon during the EPO President's mission to Africa in December 2022. The heads discussed their plan and clarified the next steps for a validation agreement between the EPO and OAPI.
During the meeting, the EPO underlined its willingness to provide comprehensive legal, administrative and technical assistance to OAPI and its member states in order to facilitate the entry into force of the validation agreement.
OAPI announced its intention to plan the entry in force of the OAPI's patent reform (from registration to substantive examination system) at the same time as the Validation System in 2025. The EPO underlined its support for these plans and will continue to contribute by offering legal support and training to OAPI examiners and helping draft the Patent Examination Guidelines.
The delegations discussed several joint activities, such as cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries in the OAPI region, and the Knowledge Transfer to Africa initiative (KT2A). The EPO launched KT2A in April 2022 to disseminate the PATLIB network's experience and expertise beyond Europe's borders. The initiative aims to foster innovation and technology transfer in selected African universities, in close cooperation with regional and national IP offices. OAPI announced that two universities from its member states are joining the KT2A programme.
The validation system offers the most advanced model of strategic cooperation for the EPO and OAPI. It offers significant benefits to OAPI and its member states as well as to the users. The validation agreement is expected to provide EPO applicants with direct access to high-quality patent protection in 17 states in Africa, a market of some 280 million inhabitants.