Report from the epi Harmonisation Committee

J. Brown (GB) Chair

The EPO is moving forward with facilitation of consultation relating to Substantive Patent Law Harmonisation (“SPLH”), on behalf of Group B+.

At the meeting of the EPO Committee on Patent Law (“CPL”) held virtually on 16 February 2023, Julyan Elbro of the UK IPO on behalf of the Group B+ Working Group on SPLT set out a timetable for conducting a comparative analysis of national/regional consultations in order to a) identify areas of convergence in user opinions across jurisdictions and b) identify areas where more work & discussion is needed. The Working Group on SPLH will report to the Group B+ Plenary in July 2023, giving an overview of existing systems, comparative analysis and possible options for issues. The members of the Working Group on SPLH are UK (Chair), AU, CZ, DE, JP, PL and EPO, with FR observing on behalf of the chair of Group B+.

At the said meeting of CPL, the EPO set out the process for the European Symposium on SPLH – 2023. Part I will be held in hybrid format on 23 March 2023, Part 1 consisting of presentation of issues (EPO, BusinessEurope) and guided discussions on each point relevant to: grace period, conflicting applications and prior user rights, with emphasis on contextual elements: trade, economic impact. There will then be an eight week period for stakeholders (BusinessEurope, national federations involved in SPLH and epi) to undertake consultations to reach consensus. Part II will be held on 22 May 2023 and will comprise presentations from stakeholders to delegations representing member states of EPC of outcomes of internal consultations and discussion of results. In the post-symposium process, the delegations representing Member States will, within the CPL, take up discussions on a consensus within CPL, determine the substance of a European common position and, depending on the outcome, next steps. The epi President and members of the epi Harmonisation Committee have been invited to attend physically the European Symposium on 23 March 2023. At the said meeting of CPL, I took the opportunity of thanking the EPO most sincerely for inviting our President and the members of our Harmonisation Committee to attend physically the Symposium on 23 March, adding that the epi looks forward to participating in a full and frank discussion of all aspects of SPLH.