International co-operation

2013 at the EPO: sustaining growth and progress


The EPO filing figures for 2013 were published last week. Although they remain preliminary – largely because of the 2013 PCT applications which have yet to reach us -, the main trends are clearly apparent. First, for the fourth year in a row, the filings total increased (+2.8%), reaching yet another peak (265 000). However, […]

The EPO and SIPO reinforce their cooperation


The cooperation between the EPO and the patent office of China (SIPO) dates back almost 30 years, to the signing of the first cooperation agreement in 1985. The bilateral Heads meeting held last week in Beijing was a further example of the longstanding and excellent relations between our two Offices. Reviewing our recent cooperation activities, […]

Concrete benefits from IP5 cooperation


The EPO has long seen the need to respond to the globalisation of the patent process, reflected in the ever-increasing proportion of patents filed in multiple offices and in the growing geographical diversity of prior art. The IP5 has addressed these issues by developing systems that allow examiners to benefit from the regional and linguistic […]

Raising IP awareness among EU policy-makers


Last week, in Brussels, the EPO and OHIM held a joint seminar on the essentials of IP for EU officials. I was delighted to see that this event attracted some 130 participants, from the EU institutions, national governments and IP offices, indicating the strong awareness within the European policy-making community of the crucial role of […]

International harmonisation in progress


For many years, industry has been calling for international harmonisation of the patent system – an understandable demand that has been further amplified by the accelerating pace of globalisation. Harmonisation can take various forms, focusing on substantive law and/or technical cooperation, and can be discussed in bilateral or multilateral frameworks. Whatever the approach may be, […]

Universities, innovation and patents


The tasks of a patent office include the dissemination of patent information as well as the examination of patent applications. To me, the former is just as important as the latter. The EPO puts particular emphasis on this aspect of its mission and has devoted considerable human and technical resources to facilitating public access to […]

PATLIB centres – patent information takes centre stage


Last week in Munich, we had the pleasure of holding the Patent Library (PATLIB) seminar. This event, first held in 1990, brings together a large number of patent information centres which form a pan-European network. The PATLIB centres are perhaps less well known than they should be, considering the pivotal role they play in disseminating […]

Language matters


Last week, in Paris, I put my signature to a Memorandum of Understanding between the EPO and the Institut fran├žais on the subject of French language training. Similar agreements for English and German, the EPO’s other two official languages, were signed in March with the British Council and the Goethe Institute. They represent a further […]

Moving ahead with the unitary patent: the Select Committee holds its first meeting


After the adoption of the EU regulations on the unitary patent in December 2012 and the recent signing of the international agreement on the Unified Patent Court, a further milestone was reached last week with the convening of the so-called Select Committee. Representatives of the 25 member states participating in the unitary patent met with […]

Breakthrough for a Unified Patent Court in Europe


Yesterday in Brussels, a historic moment arrived with the signing by 24 EU member states of the international Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC). This completes the unitary patent package, following the recent entry into force of the two Regulations adopted in December last year. After more than 40 years of fruitless attempts to […]