A year on

05 July 2011

I took up my duties as President of the EPO on 1 July 2010 and the time seems to have flown since then. Not surprisingly, I suppose: it was quite a busy twelve months. A lot of ground was prepared, major projects like the IT roadmap were launched, and important decisions were taken.

One of my top priorities from the outset has been the staff, as many of my actions show: restoring the social dialogue through more direct contact generally and by means of an agreed agenda with the staff representatives; improving working conditions (better IT tools expected from the IT roadmap, part-time home working, decision to make a major investment in a new building in The Hague); clarifying the Office’s strategic direction and objectives (to deliver high-quality rights which offer legal certainty and protect real inventions, to disseminate patent information widely, to be conscious of the impact of its activities while balancing the interests of users and third parties, and to control costs); and ensuring the financial independence of the Office and the long-term sustainability of its pension scheme.

At global level, the Office reinforced its position as a key player, entering into partnerships with Google for the machine translation system and with the USPTO for common patent classification, to mention just two examples. The high quality of the Office’s products and services is recognised by users worldwide, but it is nonetheless something we need to keep working on. Our solid reputation has led 25 EU member states to ask the EPO to grant Unitary Patent Protection and perform additional related tasks. In Europe a strong willingness to improve the relationships among all stakeholders has led to an ambitious agreement with the OHIM, and work on a comprehensive co operation roadmap involving all the national patent offices is also under way.

Specific emphasis has been put on enhancing dialogue with the users and involving them as much as possible. I have also paid particular attention to building up a relationship of trust with our Administrative Council and have enjoyed its unanimous support for most of my proposals, including the budgetary orientations.

There is still much to do and many commitments have yet to be fulfilled, in particular the roadmaps in the areas of HR and Quality. A recent staff survey, while very positive overall, highlighted certain areas where progress is expected, and I would like to see a more rapid response to some of the issues raised. But I think this first year has been productive, and all of these elements combined provide a strong basis for our further actions. 2010 was a record year in terms of patent applications (235 000), patents granted (58 000) and financial results.

I thank the staff for these excellent results, and see many reasons to stay optimistic about the EPO’s future.

Benoît Battistelli

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2 comments on A year on

  1. Last year certainly was an exceptional year for the EPO and its users. It would be helpful if the EPO could confirm how may of the 235,000 applications filed in 2010 were divisional applications.

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