22 April 2016 - No comments »
This week I had the pleasure to welcome at the EPO a delegation from the institute of professional representatives (epi) in order to discuss recent progress and results, and also to sign a Memorandum of Understanding.
Our meeting on Tuesday was the latest in our ‘Partnership for Quality’ dialogue, a process of continuous exchange with our primary users that enables us to gather valuable feedback. epi is a key player in that dialogue and a long standing partner of the EPO, having been founded as a result of the European patent Convention in October 1977. With a shared history that has developed over the last four decades, nominated representatives in the Administrative Council and representing over 11,000 patent attorneys from 30 countries, their feedback on our latest results, policies and initiatives is extremely important.
It was therefore particularly pleasing to hear the epi delegation underline their support for the way in which the EPO has successfully managed to achieve a rise in production and productivity, while simultaneously bolstering quality. By the same token, I should underline that we are grateful for the feedback of all our users who contribute to a constant rise in our quality by their appraisals of our products and services.
The meeting also allowed us to assess the other major developments at the epo in the last year, such as the development of news tools for users and our work with international partners on initiatives such as PCT direct and the EPO’s PPH pilot programmes. But the meeting also underscored the changes that we are witnessing in the patent system, such as increasing filings and rising user expectations, and to which we must adapt. While the EPO has put in place successful reforms, these changes necessitate a coordinated response from all parties so that we can continue to provide our applicants with legally-robust patents in a timely and predictable manner.
One part of the solution is to ensure that those acting on behalf of our applicants are well equipped with the most advanced skills and knowledge. It is in our common interest to have a highly-qualified European patent attorney profession able to act before the EPO in the most efficient way. As a result, we have been preparing to enhance our cooperation with epi in this field.
It is for this reason that the EPO and epi have signed an MoU on professional training. Under this formal agreement, we now have a clear framework under which our organisations can more effectively plan their cooperation on continuing professional development in the medium and long term. A significant part of this agreement is a joint programme to train EQE candidates, their supervisors and tutors as well as the vocational training of others whose work falls in this field. Furthermore, the MoU places an emphasis on the necessity to offer distance learning so that those wishing to continue their professional development irrespective of their location.
With this MoU, our organisations have laid the foundations of a programme that will not just enhance professional training for participating individuals, but will bring about even greater gains for the IP system itself.