EU patent issues – expectations high but reasonable

In 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, […]

Patents as intangible assets

The core tasks of the EPO – like any other patent office – are to examine the legal validity of patent applications and to disseminate patent information. The potential economic value of an invention plays no part in our assessment of an application’s compliance with the patentability criteria, and I attach great importance to our […]

The road to patent law harmonisation

On 5 and 6 July, a group of European delegates (from Denmark, France, Germany, the UK and the EPO) gathered in Tegernsee (Germany) at the EPO’s invitation for an informal meeting with the heads of the US and Japanese Patent Offices to explore possible ways of moving towards international patent law harmonisation. Some of you […]

Transatlantic patent reform

Major decisions on patent system reform have very recently been taken on both sides of the Atlantic. Last week, the US House of Representatives passed a bill envisaging a move from a first-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file system which would be the most significant change in US patent law since 1952. Indeed, this reform would bring […]

Patents and standards can work together

At first sight, patents and standards may seem contradictory. Certainly, when defining a standard to be used by all the players in a particular market, it is indeed vital to know what is patented and what is not. However, sometimes different companies file large numbers of patents around the same technology. This may call for […]

Another step towards an enhanced European IP environment

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to be in Alicante to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). Some may question whether such an agreement between the EPO and OHIM is really needed; they may feel that the principles and procedures governing patents are too different […]

Let’s celebrate IP… but not as an end in itself

Nearly ten years ago to the day, on 26 April 2001, the first World Intellectual Property Day was held. Its aim was “to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe”. And increasingly, it is true, a country’s international competitiveness seems to depend on its […]

Quality is the issue

The European Commission recently published the results of its “Patqual” survey, which asked European users for their views on the quality of the patent system in Europe. Obviously, it will never be easy to agree on a precise definition of patent quality, but this study does give some clear indications about how users see the […]

EPO a global player

This week, I had the opportunity to present the EPO’s 2010 statistics to the European and international press. Analysing the figures, two key messages emerge. Firstly, with incoming filings 11 % up on 2009, we have recovered well from last year’s downturn and even exceeded the previous peak (in 2008). For patents at least, the […]

Improving the patent system

The patent system is sometimes portrayed as a monopoly-granting machine which is both expensive and difficult to use. That is hardly a balanced view, of course, but I do acknowledge that we must keep working hard to improve access to patent information and to make the system more affordable, especially for European innovators and SMEs. […]