16 June 2014
The European Patent Network is a unique framework of interaction and cooperation, bringing together a regional authority – the European Patent Office – with the national patent offices of the 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation. In addition, closer ties with OHIM have been developed in recent years to present a comprehensive spectrum of activities, embracing all IP rights, to our partners and users in Europe. The two EPO “extension” states, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, also participate in these common efforts.
Innovation is often invoked in political speeches, but turning this verbal talisman into a European reality requires the involvement of many different actors, with patent offices at the forefront. Here, the EPN provides vital support in covering a market of 600 million inhabitants. Cooperation activities are enshrined in the EPO’s founding treaty, the European Patent Convention, and continue to enjoy a high priority, indicated by the Cooperation roadmap adopted by the EPO’s Administrative Council in 2011 as one of five key roadmaps establishing the main directions of Office policy in the coming years. In Cooperation, the focus has been placed on the development of initiatives in three specific areas: training, IT tools and raising patent awareness.
For some years now, the EPN has been meeting annually to review the progress in the implementation of our activities. The 8th meeting, held last week in Heraklion, Greece – which has the responsibility of the EU Presidency till the end of the month -, was very successful, thanks to the support provided by our local partner, the Hellenic IP Office. The delegates expressed their appreciation at the significant initiatives and projects that have come to fruition over the last two years. These include Patent Translate, the Federated European Register, the support programme for EQE candidates, the specialised technical language courses in the three EPO official languages, and the development of the PATLIB network.
At this year’s session, particular emphasis was given to sharing national experience, as it is clear that a number of issues are common to NPOs engaged in implementing national innovation policies. With this focus, a wide range of topics was addressed, from the development of a national awareness campaign directed at universities, to the setting-up of a mediation centre.
Following the recent IP5 event in Korea, the Cooperation day in Greece highlighted the importance of combining efforts at European and international levels to improve the patent system as a whole. This requires a network of patent offices sharing the same goals in fostering accessibility and quality, with frequent and efficient discussions at the technical level and rapid delivery of specific tools and services.