Lessons from Japan

22 March 2011

For the last few days, all our thoughts have been with the Japanese people afflicted by a series of dreadful catastrophes. As the crisis has unfolded, I have been deeply moved by their courage and dignity in these tragic circumstances.

EPO staff too have shown heartfelt sympathy for their plight. Over the years, the Japanese Patent Office and the EPO have forged a close relationship, especially through examiner exchanges. We therefore feel particular concern at this time, and yesterday expressed our solidarity by observing a minute’s silence at all four EPO sites in remembrance of the victims.

At a practical level, the Office has taken prompt action (see the notice dated 15 March 2011) to ensure that no patent rights are lost as a result of events in Japan. I have of course also been in touch with my JPO counterpart to offer our help and co-operation.

Finally, I hope that as the world reflects on what we can learn from this terrible tragedy we will not see an irrational rejection of scientific and technological progress, or a resurgence of fear and superstition. Here, the patent system has its own part to play, by helping to promote further innovation, for example in clean energy. It is my conviction that science holds the answers to many of the challenges now facing us.

Benoît Battistelli


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