A Farewell Message

28 June 2018

After eight years as President, it is finally time for me to say goodbye. Since the blog started in 2011, I’ve published over 200 posts offering my personal insight into the workings of the Office and the European and global patent system.  Every few weeks I shared my thoughts with thousands of readers on current issues in IP, the past, the present and the future of the EPO, the measures we’ve taken to improve our organisation, trends in the patent system and the hopes and aspirations of our institution, to name but a few. Now that my mandate comes to an end tomorrow, it is simply time for me to wrap up this blog with a few brief thoughts on my time at the helm and to say goodbye to our readers.

Building on a successful past

When I first became President, it was clear that the EPO was already a success story. Up until 2010, the EPO had given Europe an institution that was technically adept in granting patents. But among the Member States there was also a widely shared understanding that reform was required. As a result, I was elected on a mandate to build upon the EPO’s past technical success by reforming other aspects of the organisation. Certain changes were needed if Europe was to have an administration that was as forward thinking as the inventors that came to it for patents.

Looking back now, I am confident that we have managed to create a more modern, competitive and –above all – sustainable Office. It is more efficient, more productive, is able to grant more patents and – according to our users – has consistently achieved new highs in quality. That process has been referred to as one of the largest reform programmes ever undertaken by a European organisation and the full results are detailed in a recently published Summary of Achievements.

A collective effort

Given the scale of the undertaking, it is little surprise that this successful outcome is the result of a collective effort. Firstly, the role of user feedback has been crucial in my opinion for the transformation process and over the years we have increased the available avenues for feedback. The high participation rates in extensive surveys have allowed us to gauge accurately where improvements were needed and where we were already proving successful. I am also very grateful to all the user associations and representatives and those I have personally met over the years for their direct and constructive feedback. All in all, this input has helped ensure the services we offer match the needs of patent applicants.

Additionally, our Member States have provided me with the necessary political support and clear mandate to undertake the changes. Some 250 proposals have been deliberated with, and approved by, the Administrative Council. This pro-reform agenda has helped to ensure that the national and European wide innovation sectors are supported by a more performant Office and a stronger European patent system. More recently, the Council has also proved extremely efficient in electing my successor. The election of Mr António Campinos means the EPO will be in the safe hands of a skilled and experienced leader who already has a deep understanding of the EPO.

Although there are numerous others who have been involved in our transformation, the last group I would like to highlight is the staff and management of the EPO. They have been at the very centre of the reform process and it simply would not have been possible without their support. A talented management team has carefully assessed how improvements could be made and has managed them effectively. At the same time, the EPO’s staff powered the reform process with their dedication and commitment. There is no doubt that the pace of the change has been demanding at times for all those involved. But I also believe that together we have done what was required to deliver a more effective EPO and all of us can be collectively proud of this achievement.

After eight years here, I am more sure than ever that the EPO is a very special place and I feel honoured to have served as its President – and for so long. So much effort and energy has been invested by so many to deliver a truly modern IP office. It has been an immense privilege to have worked with a great number of talented and committed individuals and teams, many of whom have become good friends and have made the EPO the institution that it is today.

Every one of them has understood the fundamental truth that the EPO has the potential to do a great deal of good to support innovation and our economy. Ours is a unique organisation, in that it is specifically dedicated to IP, is relatively unshackled by national administrative constraints and has resources available to deploy. All that is required is the vision and the will to make that change. And when I look at all those who have been involved in creating a modern, sustainable and competitive EPO, I believe we can all say ‘We took that opportunity, and we delivered’.

I would like to thank everyone for your interest in the EPO and I wish you all the very best for the future.

Benoît Battistelli
President

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