Creating opportunities with patent knowledge

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The EPO successfully held its second Patent Knowledge Week from 4 to 7 October 2022. The four-day conference provided multiple opportunities to learn about new developments in patent information and patent knowledge, and to touch base with experts from the EPO and other organisations around the globe.

Taking place once again in digital format, the event attracted almost 1 900 participants from around 100 countries. In his welcome speech, EPO Vice-President Patent Granting Process Steve Rowan emphasised the importance of Patent Knowledge Week for IP professionals worldwide: "Patent Knowledge Week is about opportunity. A chance for people from many different backgrounds to come together and share knowledge about patents and innovation."

Unitary Patent and SMEs

Just a few months before its expected launch, the Unitary Patent (UP) was a hot topic at the conference and something that is clearly present in the minds of applicants and patent information users alike. In a dedicated session, several experts from the EPO and other organisations gave inspiring insights into the UP from different angles. They looked not just at the legal and economic impact of the UP and how to access UP-related data in EPO tools and services, but also how the exchange of legal event data between the EPO and the Unified Patent Court will work.

The lively panel on the expected opportunities and challenges of the UP for SMEs considered whether the UP will live up to the expectations of SME patent applicants and what still needs to be done. In the insightful discussion that followed, Joachim Fiedler, founder of FIDLOCK, and Véronique Willems from SMEunited, came to some agreement on the UP implementation challenges faced by SMEs. The latter emphasised the need to raise awareness among entrepreneurs of the costs and benefits of applying for a Unitary Patent and to ensure that applicants receive the necessary support throughout the application process.

Small and medium-sized enterprises were also the focus of a block on how patent knowledge can serve the needs of SMEs and start-ups. Claire Fritz (EURICE GmbH) introduced the European Commission's European IP Helpdesk for SMEs and Horizon IP Scan, a service that helps SMEs to manage and valorise IP in collaborative research projects funded by the EU. 

Susanna Kernthaler (EPO) and Laura Camacho (Agencia ES PATLIB Centre) held an engaging dialogue on SMEs as a key target group of the PATLIB network. They presented a model case demonstrating how PATLIB centres use patent information tools and services to support independent inventors and SMEs at different stages of the innovation process.

Finally, Bastian July, CEO of GoodIP, put the spotlight on start-ups, explaining how a well-planned IP strategy can help these to increase business value and investor funding.

Interacting with the experts in patent knowledge clinics

During the conference, participants not only had the opportunity to listen to presentations but also to engage with the experts. In so-called "patent-knowledge clinics", EPO experts fielded questions and discussed the everyday challenges of working with patent information. The clinics looked into three different areas – EPO search tools, EPO bulk data and web services, and worldwide IP systems. In a separate block, participants were able to obtain a comprehensive overview of the EPO's wide range of support services, including the newly created Patent Knowledge Experts Pool.

Patent knowledge and sustainable development

A separate block of sessions focused on how patent data and information contribute to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. Speakers from WIPO and the EPO's sustainability department set the scene before Benoit Olbrechts (Sirris) gave a 360-degree overview of information on sustainability-related technologies available in patent databases.

The question was how to make all this data on green technologies more accessible. An important part of the solution is the use of Y02 tags in Cooperative Patent Classification. These tags help users to identify patents across different technical fields that relate to the mitigation of or adaptation to climate change. Alexander Klenner-Bajaja, head of the EPO's Data Science department, gave an introduction on EPO initiatives to develop AI assignment of Y02 codes to improve search quality. Other EPO speakers outlined initiatives supporting sustainable development. Johannes Schaaf presented the EPO's new "space-borne sensing and green applications" patent insight report, and Christian Soltmann introduced the EPO's new Clean Energy platform which will facilitate access to patent information on clean energy technologies.

Creating the next generation of innovation

"These are just a few examples of the ways in which we're building knowledge on the foundations of patent information", said Mr Rowan. "Knowledge that will help inventors, businesses, universities and others to create the next generation of innovation."

The conference included fascinating blocks on "patent analytics and visualisation" and "innovation against diseases". Commercial patent information providers also had the opportunity to introduce their businesses in a virtual exhibition zone as well as through short exhibitor presentations.

In his closing remarks, EPO Vice-President Legal and International Affairs Christoph Ernst looked back with great satisfaction, adding: "It's been a fantastic event made all the better by your contribution. It allowed us to discuss the present and unveil the future of patent information and valuable use of patent data for the benefit of innovation."

You can watch video recordings of all the conference sessions on the Patent Knowledge Week page and on the EPO YouTube channel.

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