RWS inovia recently attended the 44th Annual IPO Meeting on September 12th & 13th in New York, NY. We had the pleasure of sitting in on a session with Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Organization. In his remarks, Battistelli reinforced the EPO’s commitment to quality and efficiency in all patent related work moving forward.
The EPO was established in 1973 and covers 42 countries with an annual budget of $2.4 billion, which is self financed as an independent organization. The European Patent Organization is the 2nd largest intergovernmental institution in Europe and employs around 7,000 people.
Battistelli discussed Europe as an attractive and lucrative market for innovation, with a growth of 4.8% European patent applications last year alone. High quality European patents are drivers of innovation and secure the competitiveness of the European economy. 27% of patent applications the EPO received originated from the US and accounted for 16.4% of overall growth last year. Other countries driving growth include China, accountable for 22.2% of growth.
In Battistelli’s talk, he discussed top EPO applicants in 2015, many headquartered in the United States: including United Technologies, Qualcomm and General Electric. With a steady increase in patent applications over the past 15 years, the EPO has managed to increase output in a variety of ways including converting support staff posts to examiner posts (in over 500 cases) and a new career system with performance incentives for employees.
With an increase in output over the years, the EPO is committed to the highest level of quality and reliability in all of their work. They offer ISO 9001 certification for the entire patent granting process and were the first of the largest patent offices to be fully ISO certified. The EPO also brings this commitment to their search and examination services with a high specialization and intensive training of EPO examiners and stability in procedures and predictability in results.
In his talk, Battistelli also touched on the upcoming Unitary patent and how the recent Brexit might stall the agreement at the last minute. The stance from the EPO was hopeful but cautious. If the UK decides to ratify the agreement in the next few months, the UPC will most likely be enforced in 2017. The less optimistic point of view is if the United Kingdom ultimately decides against ratifying, the UP won’t be part of the single market and we might have to wait for the UPC to come into effect in the next 2-4 years.
Battistelli reiterated that the EPO is ready to handle whatever comes its way in the next few months and was hopeful that all member states will ratify by 2017.