Improving lives through innovation and patents

26 April 2017

Today the world is celebrating the benefits that are brought by intellectual property. Seventeen years on from its launch by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), this year’s theme for World Intellectual Property Day is ‘Innovation – Improving Lives’. Nowhere have we seen that link more explicitly than at the EPO, where patents have protected technological breakthroughs that help to improve our lives in almost every area.

Among the inventions patented here at the European Patent Office and developed by European inventors, we have seen inventions that protect the environment with more efficient solar cells for converting sunlight to energy, purification systems for treating waste water, and faster, more effective methods for recycling batteries and recovering their valuable metals. In transport, developments in safety have protected us through the invention of electronic stability control for cars, automotive radars, inflatable cycle helmets and lighter, safer car frames. This use of innovation to enhance our wellbeing has also been reflected in our statistics. Last year, there were more patent applications in medical technology than in any other sector, where inventions in diagnostics and treatment have led to benefits such as instant detection of HIV and more responsive pace makers.

These innovations, that have improved and even saved the lives of millions, rely upon robust intellectual property protection and for the last forty years the EPO has been supporting inventors with the highest quality patents. Over the last few years we have focused on implementing efficiency measures that are now yielding results in timeliness and controlling costs while quality continues to reach ever higher levels. Search and Examination times are falling for applicants; fees have remained stable since 2010 and more patents were granted last year than ever before thanks to productivity gains. Such elements ensure a business friendly approach that supports innovators in their efforts to improve our lives by pushing the boundaries of science and technology.

But it is also our role to ensure that these inventors who are contributing so much to our society get the recognition they deserve. I am therefore delighted that we have today published the names of our shortlisted candidates for the European Inventor Award 2017. The winner in each category will be revealed at our Award ceremony on 15 June in Venice. But in addition to the winners which are decided by our independent jury, you can have your say by voting in the Popular Prize. I’d like to take this opportunity to personally encourage you all to vote and choose your favourite inventor who you believe should win for their outstanding contribution to society, the economy and technological progress.

I look forward to reporting back from the award ceremony in a couple of months, but in the meantime I would like to wish you all a very happy World Intellectual Property Day.

Benoît Battistelli

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