M. Névant (FR), Editorial CommitteeM. Névant (FR), Editorial Committee

Adapt, improvise, overcome!

2019 brings its own share of challenges that representatives will have to face.

Brexit is approaching fast, and the uncertainties surrounding the conditions of the exit generate worries on what commercial exchanges between the EU and the UK will look like in a few months. This might have an impact in the short- to mid-term on our activities because a slowdown of the economy in the EU zone could mean less innovation and hence fewer patent applications filed by European companies.

Another topic that could impact our work is the so-called “deferred examination” which the EPO is considering implementing. On this point we invite our members to read the reply filed, on behalf on epi, to the consultation initiated by the EPO. This reply is available here.

A further topic ahead of us is the revision of the rules of procedure of the Boards of Appeal. A comprehensive report on the user conference held last December 5th in Munich can be found in this issue. It transpires from the report that the Boards intend to tighten the requirements for presenting new arguments/new requests at the appeal stage. It is also contemplated that decisions from the Boards can be in abridged form. While we certainly agree that an appeal should not be an opportunity to present a case afresh or to be a continuation of the opposition, one might wonder what the true purpose of the revision is. It cannot be ruled out that in a few months, decisions from the Boards will consist of two sentences only: “The Board agrees with the findings of the examination division/ opposition division. The appeal is dismissed”. We are not sure that this is what the Fathers of the Convention had in mind…

There are therefore reasons for concern. Yet we are confident that our daily practice will allow us to adapt to new situations, improvise (as we often have to do during oral proceedings) and eventually overcome difficulties. No doubt that Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway, a character played by Clint Eastwood in the movie “Heartbreak Ridge”, would be pleased with that state of mind!

Last but not least (for those reading the editorial up to the end) our journal is continuing its transformation which started 3 years ago when the first digital issue was sent to our members. We have decided to change the structure/template of the journal, and we are also striving to improve the layout to make it a reader-friendly and “must read” journal. Time will tell whether our endeavours are successful…