13 October 2011
Last week, I was delighted to welcome to the EPO an EU delegation led by Michel Barnier, the EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, and including two Members of the European Parliament, Cecilia Wikström (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) and Eva Lichtenberger (Green Party).
The main purpose of this first official visit by the Commissioner was of course to discuss continued efforts towards the introduction of the unitary patent protection (UPP) system, including how the EPO will manage the additional work involved in the post-grant phase.
It was also a good opportunity for us to talk to Commissioner Barnier and his fellow delegates about other aspects of our work. Biotechnology, for example, is often the subject of controversial exchanges in the European Parliament in particular. In the biotech sector, the EPO – which by the way implements the legislation adopted by the EU – has set up a dedicated task force to double-check potentially sensitive cases. The result is that our grant rate for biotech applications (28%) is much lower than the overall average (42%).
We also had the opportunity to talk about our patent information services and machine translation programme. The latter will have an important role to play in the new unitary patent system. It is currently in the test phase with Google, and the first six language pairs from and into English should be available in December.
With the unitary patent so high on the agenda, I was particularly pleased to be invited this week to speak to the JURI Committee of the European Parliament about the role the EPO will play in the implementation of the new system. Highlighting our commitment to the project and the expertise we have to offer, I was at pains to point out the urgent need to finalise this project, which will do so much to boost European competitiveness at a time when our political leaders are looking for solutions to the financial crisis.
Discussions between the EU institutions and participating member states are now in the final stages, and the EPO is ready provide whatever support and help is needed.
Tags: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, biotech, biotech patents, Cecilia Wikström, Commissioner Barnier, competitiveness, EPO, European Patent Office, Eva Lichtenberger, Google, Green Party, patents, post-grant