Geneva rendezvous

04 October 2011

WIPO’s annual general assemblies are a unique opportunity for the worldwide intellectual-property community to come together, with patent issues just one course on a very appetising menu. This year’s began with the opening of the new WIPO building. The ceremony included a wonderful performance from Barbara Hendricks, who also took the opportunity to highlight the importance of intellectual property in protecting artistic creativity. I think this kind of message – delivered by highly respected professionals such as Ms Hendricks or, in the case of patents, nominees for the European Inventor Award – is an ideal way to raise IP awareness amongst the public at large.

In Geneva, I was also able to sign three general co operation agreements – with Australia, Brazil and Russia. They supplement a growing list of EPO co operation agreements, involving the development and monitoring of yearly work programmes. The EPO’s expertise in areas such as patent-examiner training, institution-building (including assistance in drafting new patent legislation) and the testing and utilisation of IT tools – especially Epoque for patent searching – is very widely recognised. Strong growth in patenting in emerging and developing countries appears to be a firm trend. One result of this is an increasing number of requests for partnerships with the EPO.

Keen interest was also expressed in our machine translation programme, and I am confident that we will succeed in building a comprehensive service which will benefit a wide range of users. Lastly, several countries have said they would like to explore the possibility of validation agreements similar to our existing one with Morocco. I regard this as a positive signal about the quality of European patents.
Next year, we will all meet again in Geneva to review progress. Before then, of course, a lot more work lies ahead.

Benoît Battistelli

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