19 May 2014
The PATLIB conference, a yearly event organised since 1990, took place in Istanbul last week. This year’s conference was dedicated to networking, enabling PATLIB representatives to share experiences and best practices. All our member states were represented, with the number of attendees – 260 – far outstripping the previous record total of 180.
The conference was also an opportunity for all the participants to express directly their sincere sympathy with the Turkish people over the terrible tragedy which had occurred in the Soma coal mine the day before the proceedings began.
The PATLIB centres, numbering over 300 in Europe, vary greatly in size and in the scope of their responsibilities, but they all play a vital role as information providers to a wide audience. The EPO supports the centres via the national patent offices with information products and training sessions. Since 2010 a pilot programme has been running with 17 centres from 11 countries to facilitate the delivery of high-quality, customer-oriented services, such as an explanatory search report that is easier to understand for non-specialists. The pilot has proved very successful, with much positive feedback from users, and a series of follow-up actions is already planned.
In the margins of the PATLIB event, a ceremony took place for the signing of a general framework agreement between the Turkish Patent Institute (TPI) and the representatives of 15 major Turkish universities. The object of the agreement is to foster the dissemination of IP knowledge, making it a basic element of degree courses, especially for technology students. I was most impressed by the attendance of senior representatives – rectors and vice-rectors – from so many universities, showing their commitment to the implementation of this ambitious programme, which has the potential to raise IP awareness among hundreds of thousands of students across the country. The EPO, in particular via the European Patent Academy, will continue to work closely with its front-line partner in Turkey, the TPI, in order to provide the necessary material, such as our comprehensive library of e-learning tools.
A wide range of important issues was discussed at a meeting with representatives of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD). Among the topics raised were the ongoing patent law reforms in Turkey, especially in the medical field; the number of Turkish patent attorneys passing the European Qualifying Examination; and the current TTIP negotiations and their possible impact on Turkey with regard to patent law. The message emerging clearly from all the discussions was that industry needs a high-quality patent system, and that patent offices have a crucial role to play in securing the conditions for innovation and growth.
Our Turkish colleagues are to be congratulated for their excellent organisational contribution, helping the EPO to make PATLIB 2014 a big success. Next year’s PATLIB will be a training event, and I would encourage all the PATLIB centres in Europe to persist in their commitment to our annual conference.