The epi Code of Conduct is now ready for UPC

G. Checcacci (IT), ChairG. Checcacci (IT), Chair

After years of discussions, within epi and between the epi and the EPO, the epi Code of Conduct has been eventually amended. After the amendment, it is now clearly stated that application of the epi CoC is not limited to activities of epi members in respect of the EPO, but it includes also activities before the UPC. It may be useful to stress that epi members may act before the UPC both as representatives (Art. 48(2) UPC agreement), provided they have the necessary additional qualification, and as patent attorneys assisting a representative (Art. 48(4) UPC agreement).

At the recent meeting C92 of the Council, a vast majority of the Council members have voted in favor of the proposed amendments and the new Code of Conduct is now in force. It will be published soon in the OJ of the EPO.

There are three parts involved in the amendments: the preamble, the definitions and Art. 6.

The preamble

The wording of the preamble has been substantially re-drafted:

This Code, adopted under Articles 4(c) and 9(3) of the Founding Regulation, contains the recommendations of the Council as to the conduct and activities of Members insofar as related to Members' profession.*

In this new wording, the limiting reference to the EPC has been removed, as it had no real basis: neither in the Regulation on Discipline nor in the Founding Regulation (FR) of epi. The correct legal bases in the FR have been explicitly added. Reference to Art. 4(c) and 9(3)FR, Art. 4(c):
The objects of the Institute shall be to (...) (c) promote compliance by its members with the Rules of Professional Conduct, inter alia through the formulation of recommendations;
FR, Art. 9(3):
The Council may, within the terms of the Regulation on Discipline for Professional Representatives, make
recommendations on conduct.
of the FR makes it clear what is the very nature of the Code of Conduct: a set of recommendations by the Council intended to promote compliance by epi members with the Rules of Professional Conduct, i.e. Part I of the Regulation on Discipline. Besides, the term profession has been explicitly used, as this is the term used in the Regulation on Discipline when defining at Art. 1 RoD, Art. 1, General professional obligations:
(1) A professional representative shall exercise his profession conscientiously and in a manner appropriate to its dignity. In particular, he shall not knowingly make any false or misleading statement.
(2) A professional representative shall conduct himself in such a manner as not to prejudice the necessary
confidence in his profession.
the general obligations of epi members.

The definitions

Consistently with the new preamble, a new item has been added to the definitions, to properly identify the Founding Regulation:

"Founding Regulation"

means the "Regulation on the Establishment of an Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office", done at Munich on 21st October, 1977, and any amendment thereof, for as long as that Regulation remains in force.

Article 6

The wording of this article has been significantly amended, to take in due account that application of the CoC is not limited to activities vis à vis the EPO:

6. Relationship with Offices and Courts

In all dealings with any Office or Court or any employee thereof where the Member is entitled to act, including in particular the European Patent Office and the Unified Patent Court, a Member shall act courteously, and shall do everything possible to uphold the good reputation of this Institute and its Members.

Thus, the obligation of courtesy and the need to uphold the good reputation of epi have been extended to dealings with any Offices or Courts, including the EPO and the UPC.

As a code of conduct is a significant part of the definition of a profession, with this new CoC we epi members can proudly say that our profession is (and will continue to be) a truly pan-European profession, certainly the only one in the field of IP.