Since my arrival at the EPO in 2010, I have put strong emphasis on making the Office more user-friendly. This is happening in several ways: for example, in providing new IT tools that help applicants to follow the processing of their patents. The feedback we have received so far has been very positive. We are also witnessing a steady increase in the number of visits to our website and the take-up of our internet services. For instance, the use of Espacenet, our web tool for searching patents, rose by 26% over the first four months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. A further example: since the launch of our new Patent Translate service in February 2012, the number of translation requests has increased by leaps and bounds, to an average, now, of 150 000 per month.
However, apart from making improvements in the daily management of patent applications, I think it is equally important to pursue our regular contacts with users on more general and political issues. Last week I had the welcome opportunity to meet three groups of users in Munich and hear their views. On 19 June, the EPO hosted the annual meeting of the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO), bringing together a wide range of experienced patent attorneys and practitioners from industry to conduct a general review of EPO activities and projects over the past year. SACEPO came into being in 1978, at the same time as the Office, and is a highly valued institution. Beyond these formal meetings, the contacts with our different users are frequent and conducted at different levels of the Office, involving the President and Vice-Presidents, managers, patent examiners and/or legal experts. We find these various contacts extremely fruitful and we will make every effort to maintain them.
In addition to its meetings with user groups, the EPO is now trying to develop the dialogue by making better use of new electronic facilities. Recently, we set up a web-based platform for conducting user opinion surveys, which has already proved very helpful. In the past six months, a number of important topics have been addressed, including patent law harmonisation, PCT matters and divisional applications. The response rates are high and we firmly intend to continue these regular web consultations.
Improvements are continually needed to enhance transparency and ensure that the public is fully informed about our many projects and reforms. Keeping a website with so many different services updated is quite a challenge in itself. Here, your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I encourage you to submit your suggestions and comments.
Last week, in the margins of the IP5 meeting, I had the opportunity to meet a number of senior IP executives from companies based in California. I always welcome this kind of direct contact with the EPO’s users, giving us a chance to inform them about our current projects and activities and to hear their […]
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, […]
The European Inventor Award (EIA) ceremony held in Amsterdam on 28 May was a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to some of our most creative and inspiring inventors. Many representatives of the worlds of politics, industry, academia and industrial property took part in this event, including Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Michel […]
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 […]
This week, to mark Europe Day on 9 May, I was very pleased to welcome to Munich Mr Rapkay from the European Parliament, who played an instrumental role in the unitary patent project, along with many representatives from the EU institutions, the Bavarian government, the Bavarian parliament and the City of Munich plus several distinguished members […]
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 […]
This year, the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office (epi) is celebrating the 35th anniversary of its foundation, and I was very pleased to be present at the ceremony held last week in Vienna to mark this occasion. I would like to take this opportunity to thank again Mr Tony Tangena, the […]
Last week, in Paris, I put my signature to a Memorandum of Understanding between the EPO and the Institut français 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 […]
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 […]