Delegations of EPO and epi met to discuss topics of current concern

On 27.05.2024 an epi delegation led by epi President Thomsen met with EPO President Campinos who was accompanied by a broad EPO delegation including all EPO Vice Presidents in order to discuss current matters of common interest. During the meeting the delegations exchanged on recent developments, e.g. on the latest status of the three elements of the EU patent package as well as the new WIPO Treaty that had been adopted just a couple of days ago which prescribes ratifying countries to introduce an obligation for patent applicants to disclose the source/origin of Genetic Resources and associated Traditional knowledge if a claimed invention is directly based on them. The main part of the meeting focused on the topics “patent Quality measures at EPO” and the European Qualification Exam (EQE) and European Patent Administrator Certificate (EPAC).

Both sides agreed that following the adoption of the EQE reform by the Administrative Council at the end of last year, implementation of the new EQE format becomes a current priority with an emphasis to provide to future candidates, their trainers and employers the best possible level of information what can be expected from the new EQE, so that those having a choice between sitting the old EQE format or starting within the new format, can make such well-informed decision and will have an opportunity to be properly prepared. It was appreciated that measures were taken by all involved EPO and epi bodies to strive for publications of model papers for modules F and M1 still before the autumn, or the end of this year, respectively.

Regarding steps towards more digitalized EPO proceedings, the epi agreed to support communicating new MyEPO functionalities whereas it is important for users to test for instance the new back-up emergency filing system CUS which is supposed to replace the possibility to make submissions at EPO by Fax, which will be de-commissioned per 1st July 2024 together with some other legacy systems such as Legacy Mailbox and MyFiles.

On “Patent Quality”, the delegations specifically looked at improvements of the Stakeholder Quality Assessment Panels (SQAP), that are going to be implemented in the 2024 cycle, following i.a. some suggestions worked out at epi´s pre-Council seminar in Ljubljana in November 2023, for instance to also dedicate attention to refused applications. The epi delegation pointed out the importance to constantly improve quality assurance processes particularly with a view on results that matter for users and affected businesses and further collect input on patent quality from a broad source of users and stakeholders. The EPO delegation drew the attention to the recently published quality dashboard and the Quality Action Plan 2024. The Ombuds Office of the EPO that had been introduced two years ago gave an overview on their way of working and case statistics. The Ombuds office is an integral part of the quality assurance system of the EPO and offers to everybody, including epi members, an independent and alternative route to discreetly raise and/or solve specific troubles related to the EPO patent activities.

The discussions were rounded up by a short report on the use and processes around Unitary Patents, almost 1 year after they became fully available. The conversion rate is nearly 25% of all newly granted EPs.

The epi and EPO delegations concluded by looking forward to this constructive dialogue wherein topics of concern can be discussed in a fruitful and open atmosphere.