Towards a more diverse EPO

02 April 2012

EPO President Benoît BattistelliI have often expressed my firm belief that Europe’s diversity is an asset, not a handicap. It is true that our large family has such a wide variety of traditions, interests and views that it can sometimes be hard to achieve consensus or finalise decisions. In people terms, however, diversity clearly represents opportunity for an institution like the EPO. Our staff already come from more than 30 different European countries, and we aim to increase that number still further. Remember that half our member states have joined since 2000, and it can take time to find people with the right skills. But our 38 member states now build a 600 million-strong market, and the EPO offers innovative companies centralised one-stop access to patent protection across a huge region stretching from Iceland to Turkey and from Finland to Portugal.

I am therefore particularly pleased to welcome two newcomers to key positions at the Office. The first is Željko Topić, our newly elected vice-president for Directorate-General 4 (Administration). He hails from Croatia, which became a full member of the Organisation in 2008 but has had observer status since 2004. Mr Topić has been Director General of Croatia’s IP office for many years, and as head of the Croatian delegation is a well-known figure on our Administrative Council.

The second is Margot Fröhlinger, who has just been appointed principal director for patent law and international affairs in DG 5. For the last five years, she has been leading the intellectual property directorate in the EU Commission’s DG Internal Market, where she has been instrumental in making real progress on issues such as the unitary patent and European patent court. In sometimes difficult discussions she has always sought close dialogue with the different stakeholders, especially the user community, and that is also our approach here at the EPO.

These two new arrivals symbolise the EPO’s determination to reflect the diversity of its broad membership, and to deepen and widen its relationships with other organisations such as the EU. I wish them both every success in their new positions with us.

Benoît Battistelli

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