Today the world is celebrating the benefits that are brought by intellectual property. Seventeen years on from its launch by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), this year’s theme for World Intellectual Property Day is ‘Innovation – Improving Lives’. Nowhere have we seen that link more explicitly than at the EPO, where patents have protected technological breakthroughs that help to improve our lives in almost every area.
Among the inventions patented here at the European Patent Office and developed by European inventors, we have seen inventions that protect the environment with more efficient solar cells for converting sunlight to energy, purification systems for treating waste water, and faster, more effective methods for recycling batteries and recovering their valuable metals. In transport, developments in safety have protected us through the invention of electronic stability control for cars, automotive radars, inflatable cycle helmets and lighter, safer car frames. This use of innovation to enhance our wellbeing has also been reflected in our statistics. Last year, there were more patent applications in medical technology than in any other sector, where inventions in diagnostics and treatment have led to benefits such as instant detection of HIV and more responsive pace makers.
These innovations, that have improved and even saved the lives of millions, rely upon robust intellectual property protection and for the last forty years the EPO has been supporting inventors with the highest quality patents. Over the last few years we have focused on implementing efficiency measures that are now yielding results in timeliness and controlling costs while quality continues to reach ever higher levels. Search and Examination times are falling for applicants; fees have remained stable since 2010 and more patents were granted last year than ever before thanks to productivity gains. Such elements ensure a business friendly approach that supports innovators in their efforts to improve our lives by pushing the boundaries of science and technology.
But it is also our role to ensure that these inventors who are contributing so much to our society get the recognition they deserve. I am therefore delighted that we have today published the names of our shortlisted candidates for the European Inventor Award 2017. The winner in each category will be revealed at our Award ceremony on 15 June in Venice. But in addition to the winners which are decided by our independent jury, you can have your say by voting in the Popular Prize. I’d like to take this opportunity to personally encourage you all to vote and choose your favourite inventor who you believe should win for their outstanding contribution to society, the economy and technological progress.
I look forward to reporting back from the award ceremony in a couple of months, but in the meantime I would like to wish you all a very happy World Intellectual Property Day.
Last week I was in Seville for the meeting of the Trilateral Heads of Office and Trilateral and Industry meeting, which the EPO had the pleasure of hosting. Over the course of two days, the Offices made clear advances through the input of industry in talks with the Heads of the EPO, USPTO and JPO. […]
Last week I was in Brussels to speak at a hearing on the Unitary Patent organised by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI). It was a pleasure to be able to return to speak to the members of the Committee to inform them on the state of play and also to provide an update […]
Earlier this week I was in Brussels to present the EPO’s annual results. There we welcomed more journalists that we have ever had present at this annual press conference. Media coverage has already proved expansive with reports from major outlets analysing the main trends – a positive sign of the wider interest in European innovation. […]
This week the EPO welcomed Carl Josefsson as the new President of the Boards of Appeal. It is a great opportunity for a judiciary that has been reformed to enhance its efficiency and to further assure users of its independence. This new era opens under the leadership of an experienced patent judge. Indeed, previous to […]
This week I am pleased to report that the EPO recently hosted the first meeting of an additional new committee to work specifically on quality. Although the EPO has been holding meetings of the Standing Advisory Committee before the European Patent Office (SACEPO) since 1979, this is the very first time that a sub-committee has […]
Last Friday the Supreme Court of the Netherlands conclusively endorsed the EPO’s immunity and the validity of its legal framework. It follows a case originally brought before the national courts of the Netherlands by one of the EPO`s trade unions, which asserted that it had no means to legally challenge recent reforms within the Office. […]
Yesterday, I was able to discuss the EPO’s priorities for the coming year at a special event with our staff. It was an opportunity to review the developments of the last twelve months in a meeting in Munich, attended by over 350 staff members and viewed online by employees throughout the organisation. Almost one year […]
Last week the European Patent Office hosted the fourth Indo-European Conference on Patents and ICT at its headquarters in Munich. It is an event which has been held on an alternating basis in India and in Europe since 2013, in conjunction with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of the Government of India. […]
The United Kingdom has announced its intention to ratify the Unified Patent Court agreement. This is the exciting news recently given by UK Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, and it has been met with positive responses by the European Commission, the other Member States and the user community. I strongly welcome this development as […]