16 April 2019
The EPO and the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV) jointly hosted the first in a series of events on computer-implemented inventions in medical technology last week in Lund, Sweden. The conference, which focused on the importance of patents for small and mid-sized companies, was attended by participants and speakers from SMEs and start-ups, industry, universities, public research institutes, patent offices and regulatory bodies from over a dozen countries.
Medical technology was the field with the highest number of European patent applications last year, according to the EPO Annual Report 2018. As with many other technical fields, the impact of computer-implemented inventions is being strongly felt in this area. With this event, the EPO and the PRV aimed to raise awareness among businesses of the value of patents and IP strategies, and highlight how patent offices can contribute by providing the necessary knowledge and tools. Similar events are planned in other cities in Sweden and across Europe.
In their welcome addresses, Peter Strömbäck, PRV Director General, and Peter Albrecht, EPO Principal Director Operations, underlined the close co-operation between the EPO and national patent offices in Europe. They emphasised the role of patent offices in supporting innovation, with a particular focus on increased digitalisation across all technical fields.
"This conference highlights the market value of patents for SMEs and the importance of having an IP strategy," said Peter Albrecht. "We have to stay in a dialogue with all of the actors of the innovation ecosystem in order to jointly address the challenges and opportunities of rapid technological change, including the growing importance of digital technologies in medtech," Peter Strömbäck said.
At the Lund event, patent examiners from the EPO and PRV spoke about which type of inventions combining computers and medical technology can be protected by patents , and how. This included discussion of patent information and IP strategies, as well as post-examination (opposition and appeal) procedures.
Several presenters from business backgrounds, ranging from investors to CEOs, shared their expertise and discussed case studies. The conference also delved deeper into legal aspects and looked at regulation, national litigation, licensing strategies and even how the drafting of a patent application can affect the future commercialisation of an invention.
The EPO's European Patent Academy, which organised today's Lund event together with the PRV, has run another Europe-wide training series called "IP for business" since 2017. With a focus on general IP training for technology-driven SMEs, "IP for business" events will be held this year in Bucharest, Copenhagen, Oslo, Budapest, Bratislava and Ljubljana. Another conference for businesses jointly organised by the EPO and the Licensing Executives Society International on strategies to facilitate the transfer of patented technologies will take place in Dublin on 4/5 November 2019, and two additional medtech events are scheduled for 2020.