Quick Navigation



The spirit of Artur Fischer

02 February 2015 - No comments »

EPO President Benoît BattistelliI first met Artur Fischer during the European Inventor Award ceremony in Berlin in June 2014 when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award. I was most impressed by this extraordinary character – the 95-year-old doyen of inventors, the “man of 1000 patents”, as the German press reverentially refer to him. He invited me to visit his office in Tumlingen, his hometown in the Black Forest. Last week I was extremely pleased to take up his invitation and honoured to be welcomed into the workshop of this genius.

Today the Fischer Group, still family-owned, employs nearly 4300 people and has an annual turnover around 700 million EUR. Fixings are still the strongest of the company’s four commercial units, and wall plugs and steel anchors are its best-known products, with “Fischer Dübel” being a household name in many countries. Hardly less known are the Fischertechnik toy kits which Artur Fischer developed in 1964. One can only be impressed by such innovation and commercial success, but I was stuck by his energy, his dynamism, his willingness to overcome as many challenges as possible. His message was that life in itself was a risky matter but it should not be a reason not to try.

Indeed anyone watching CNN’s coverage from the World Economic Forum in Davos last month could not have failed to notice their focus on risks. Terrorism, civil wars, cyber-vandalism, fragility in the Eurozone, wider economic shocks, energy prices and climate change are all risks for the year ahead – and these certainly put into perspective what we in the IP world regard as our big challenges. I joined with two CEOs – Ulrich Spiesshofer from ABB and Harry Hohmeister from Swiss Air – on a panel debate with CNN’s Richard Quest at his Davos Debrief event last Monday night in Zürich to examine these issues more closely.

From our patent filing statistics I see an increasing risk-aversion and a tendency for conservatism of established economies with aging populations – Europe being the prime example with stable filings year after year. Conversely, the growing economies with a younger demographic are more driven to innovate by aspirational young people who are more willing to take risks so as to improve their lives. These are the innovators of the future, who embody the spirit of invention. Europe could learn from them – a healthy appetite for balanced risk is good for growth. But inventiveness is also a question of mind and readiness to move forward as demonstrated by Mr Fischer throughout his long life.

On 11 June, we will hold the tenth European Inventor Award ceremony in Paris, our contribution to the fair recognition of some of today’s most creative minds. The jury deliberated in Munich last week and the finalists will be announced in April. Artur Fischer and many other inventors and entrepreneurs will be our guests in Paris next June. I hope their example will inspire us all.

Benoît Battistelli

  • Share this post:

Older posts

A win-win agreement between the EPO and Morocco

This week we witnessed an historic “first” from the perspective of the European Patent Organisation: the validation agreement with Morocco. Indeed the EPO, starting with 7 member states in 1977, […]

New peak of patent filings at the EPO in 2014

This week we published our preliminary filing figures for 2014. Although the precise numbers are still being worked on, indications are that we saw over 270 00 filings last year, […]

2014, another successful year for the EPO

As the year draws to a close, it is time to look back on the achievements of the last twelve months. First, 2014 can be regarded as a very successful […]

ISO certification for the EPO’s patent granting process

This week, on behalf of the EPO, I was very pleased to receive the ISO 9001 certificate for our entire patent granting process covering: search and examination; opposition; limitation and […]

Celebrating 20 years of OHIM

Anniversaries are a good opportunity to reflect on the past, to review achievements and to imagine future improvements. In this regard, I think it is fair to say that the […]

Europe and China in strategic partnership for patents

It comes as a surprise to some that the relationship between the EPO and the Patent Office of China (SIPO) started decades ago. Ever since Deng Xiaoping began to open […]

Adapting patent information to the global needs

Last week in Warsaw the EPO organised its popular Patent Information Conference (EPOPIC). It is always a pleasure for me to attend this unique annual gathering of patent information specialists […]

Fresh insight on our relations with the U.S.

Having regular contacts with our users, in and outside Europe, is of utmost importance to ensure that our services still meet their needs and also to receive feedback on the […]

Key milestone in Stockholm for our new IT tools

The EPO’s Online User Day held last week in Stockholm, attended by more than 200 participants from 20 European countries, marked the start of the roll out of our new patent grant […]