20 October 2011
I have just had the pleasure of opening the EPO Patent Information Conference 2011 which is taking place in Kilkenny (Ireland) from 18 to 20 October. Kilkenny occupies a special position in EPO history, as the place where our logo was designed. This conference devoted to one of the EPO’s two main tasks – the dissemination of patent information – is a unique event, bringing together well over 300 international specialists in the field. The obligation to make inventions public is central to our patent system, and fosters access to a vast store of technical knowledge. This has benefited greatly from recent advances in IT, and increasingly the public demands easy access to comprehensive databases. Nowadays, people expect to be able to find all the information they need, whatever its source, at any time and for free. Here the EPO has been a pioneer, and for many years now has pursued a policy of free, open access to its data, especially through our easy-access tools like Espacenet.
This is of course a general trend, but for patent offices it poses special challenges: in our assessments of patentability, we must rise above constraints of time, geography and language. That makes data collection, treatment, publication and dissemination vitally important tasks, and in this area the EPO is now an acknowledged global leader. In a virtuous circle, we too benefit from the innovation and technological improvement we promote in our daily work. For example, recent IT developments enabled us last year to launch a comprehensive programme for a machine translation service. I am optimistic about the first results, which should be operational soon. The programme also relies on the productive partnerships with other patent offices, both inside and outside Europe, which we have built up over the years thanks to the major role we have long played in international co operation.
Last week, I had the honour to take part in celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Norwegian Industrial Property Office. They took place in Oslo, in the famous hall where the Nobel Prize ceremony is held. The NIPO had made a special film for the occasion, illustrating how patents promote technological progress to the benefit of society at large. It always comes as a surprise to me to see how old some of the patents leading on to major technological breakthroughs can be. One of our aims in disseminating patent information is to speed that process up.
Categories: International co-operation, Patents
Tags: Applying for a patent, database, dissemination of patent, EPO, Espacenet, Europe, European Patent Office, innovation, intellectual property, Kilkenny, NIPO, Norwegian Industrial Patent Office, patent information, patent-system, patentability, protection