EU patent issues – expectations high but reasonable

27 July 2011

EPO President Benoît BattistelliIn mid-summer, it is always a good idea to look ahead at what the calendar holds in store. September is invariably a busy month, culminating each year in the regular trip to Geneva for the WIPO Assemblies’ packed agenda.

For Europe, the EU’s patent-related projects have featured prominently for many years now – too many, in fact. As we move closer and closer towards the final decision, the pressure on the shoulders of the EU presidency intensifies with each new 6-monthly rotation. Because of the summer break, the EU presidency in the second half of the year has to be managed particularly efficiently; the window for action appears smaller. I experienced this personally when France held the presidency in 2008, so the new Polish presidency has all my sympathy.

But in fact I am highly confident about the road ahead. I was very pleased to hear that the Polish presidency has been extremely active from day one, getting all the various national capitals’ IP experts involved. I was also delighted to learn that a user representative was invited to one of the working groups in July, to enable the business community to set out its expectations of the future European patent litigation system.

To me, it seems only natural to sound out the views of the main users of the proposed new scheme. Too often, in the past, we have failed because schemes which looked perfect on paper proved unduly complicated or inappropriate for practitioners. What we need is an agreement which reflects Europe’s differing political sensitivities whilst also meeting the needs of its economy. From that perspective, especially in an EU context, my experience tells me that the best is often the enemy of the good.

With the current draft for the European patent court, which has been discussed at length and draws on European best practice in patent litigation, I believe we have now reached a balanced compromise which can secure broad support. That is why I feel that my high expectations are perfectly reasonable.

I wanted to end this blog by wishing everyone still in their offices a good holiday soon, but my final thoughts and sympathy now go out to Norway and our Norwegian colleagues in their distress at last week’s tragic events.

Benoît Battistelli

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