27 September 2019
On 19 September, representatives of the EPO attended an international conference in Prague on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Industrial Property Office (IPO) of the Czech Republic. At the one-day conference, participants explored the latest developments in patents and intellectual property.
The Czech government recently adopted an innovation strategy for 2019-2030, and a white paper on intellectual property rights protection is in preparation. It will emphasise the need for innovative use of competitors’ existing solutions, solid patent protection and education in intellectual property rights at schools.
"Patent protection is crucial in R&D when putting new ideas into practice," said Industry and Trade Minister Havlíček. "Therefore, awareness raising is very important as well as co-operation on an international level. We intend to protect smart Czech minds to the best of our ability and help them to succeed around the world. The government is fully aware of the importance of IPR protection. That is why one of the chapters of the innovation strategy focuses on this."
Josef Kratochvíl, President of the Czech IPO and Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, said: "Czech industry and R&D must keep in touch with the best innovators and not re-invent what has already been invented and properly protect its own inventions. The existing patent system offers countless opportunities for inspiration. It is an extremely powerful tool for real innovators to protect and monetise their ideas. The income from the production of protected goods or patent licenses is a driving force for future development."
In his speech EPO President António Campinos presented the Office's Strategic Plan 2023, which includes strengthening international co-operation as one of its five main goals. "Co-operation is one of the EPO's biggest assets," Mr Campinos said. "By working even more closely and seamlessly with our member states and other stakeholders, we can contribute to a stronger and more stable patent system and disseminate knowledge about patents and technologies. This will ensure Europe remains a globally attractive market with a robust intellectual property rights system."
Other speakers and panellists also included WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, EUIPO Executive Director Christian Archambeau, as well as representatives of leading Czech organisations in the fields of science and IP. The heads of national patent offices from around Europe also attended the event.
After the conference EPO President António Campinos met with Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade, Karel Havlíček, to discuss how to further strengthen intellectual property protection to better support innovation and the economy in Europe.
During an evening reception, several individuals active in various scientific fields were honoured with awards. The EPO President was conferred a Merit Award by Mr Kratochvíl, and Mr Campinos also presented an award posthumously to Otto Wichterle, the Czech inventor of soft contact lenses and artificial polyamide fiber (nylon), which was accepted by the inventor's son, Kamil Wichterle.
The predecessor of the Czech IPO - the Czechoslovak patent office - was founded in 1919 in Prague; the Industrial Property Office of the Czech Republic was established in 1993 following the split of Czechoslovakia. The Czech Republic has been a member of the European Patent Organisation since 2002. The EPO and Czech Industrial Property Office are implementing a range of joint activities including professional training of patent office staff, qualification of professional representatives, strengthening of patent-related services to industry, raising awareness of the patent system, and improvement of patent information tools and services. The co-operation includes a project aimed at creating digital full-text versions of national patent publications going back to 1973, thus improving the quality of patent data on offer to the public and researchers in the Czech language.
Last year Czech inventors, companies and research institutions filed some 242 patent applications at the EPO, an increase of 17.5 % over the previous year - well above the average growth rate for the EU as a whole.
The work of Czech inventors is also recognised by nominations for the European Inventor Award. In 2011, the immunologist Blanka Říhová (Czech Academy of Sciences) was nominated for the Award in the category "Lifetime achievement", for creating a new generation of innovative anti-cancer medicines, and Miroslav Sedláček (Czech Technical University in Prague), was among the Award finalists in 2016 for his invention of a novel bladeless hydropower turbine.