04 May 2016
We forget sometimes that the world of patents can appear complex and daunting to those who do not have the time or resources to dedicate to patent searching or to analysing patent information. Happily, here in Europe, innovators can prosper from a network of professional centres that help them to maximise the impact of their intellectual property with strategic advice. That network is PATLIB – and yesterday I had the pleasure of addressing its annual conference in Helsinki.
With over 300 PATLIB centres spread throughout Europe, the PATLIB network is often seen as being on the front line of providing much-needed patent services. This includes giving advice to innovators on issues such as patent statistics and strategies. It is therefore little surprise that this event generated great interest. Two hundred participants from thirty seven countries were present to share their experiences and knowledge at a conference where the emphasis was firmly on networking.
Among the wealth of valuable presentations, I was delighted that this year we also addressed the issue of raising awareness of Patent Information Centres and how this can be supported by the use of digital communications. This subject is indicative of a general challenge that faces the PATLIB network and all those that provide patent information services: the need to ensure that our users have a full understanding of the tools, information and patenting possibilities that are on offer from PATLIB centres as patent resources grow. At a time when simple searches can be performed by users themselves, customers are in need of sophisticated services and intelligent insight that offer real added value. PATLIB centres can be in a position to offer these services, but it is crucial that we help our users to understand the full breath of information available.
The EPO is committed to playing its role in supporting the PATLIB network. We provide the most accessible and comprehensive patent information from which strategic advice can be drawn and offered to clients. But we have also made advances on initiatives which have ensured that the most comprehensive IP data is available. For example, with ten Member States already signed up to the Federated European Register and six more in the testing phase, the legal status of patents in our member states is readily available in one consolidated table. Similarly, the CPC system, which offers more finely classified patent documentation, is gradually becoming a world standard. There are now twenty two major offices which either classify, or are committed to classifying, in the CPC.
The EPO has also offered direct support in the form of training, to ensure PATLIB staff are equipped with the latest know-how. Last year the EPO created and ran a pilot online course on the business use of patent information that was open to staff from national offices and patent information centres. Following positive feedback, this year we will be offering the same course to equip many more with the most up to date knowledge.
Such measures are a sign of our commitment to a network which is valued for the provision of specialised patent services. But we can only continue to support our innovators with this advice if we are able to come together to assess our progress so far and examine new ways ahead. I would therefore like to offer my sincerest thanks to all those who attended PATLIB 2016 and to everyone who made it possible with their organisation and input. I look forward to seeing you again next year.