The European Patent Office (EPO) is seeking input for its Strategic Plan 2023. This project aims to set the vision of the EPO for 2019–2023. The consultation will run from 23 January to 15 March. The results of the consultation will then be presented to the Administrative Council in June 2019.
All EPO stakeholders may participate in this consultation. The EPO imagine this could include: applicants (both individual and corporate), patent attorneys, law firms, national patent offices, governmental and non-governmental organisations, and universities. If you deal with the EPO and want your opinions known; this is your opportunity.
The EPO are steering the consultation with three topics which it thinks are going to be the greatest concern for it over the next four years:
- Evolution of the patent system and future challenges
- Delivering high quality products and services
- Social responsibility and transparency
Evolution of the patent system and future challenges
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the patent system over the coming years and how can the EPO adapt? All fields of science and technology are pushing the boundaries of human knowledge, but they are also pushing the boundaries of law. Do you think the EPO needs to further adapt its articles and rules to prepare for emerging technology areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, or gene-based disease treatments? On the flip side, is there anything the EPO could do to promote and encourage innovation? It looks like the EPO its focusing on how to ‘future proof’ itself and the patent system as well as pioneering its growth and development. There are probably plenty ideas out there to steer the EPO into the future.
Delivering high quality products and services
This section is perhaps most relevant to patent attorneys and EPO Professional Representatives. Has there always been a bugbear about the way the EPO communicates? In your years of experience do you have a suggestion for a way the EPO can better its practices? Or maybe there are additional services the EPO could offer, especially in light of advances in technology. This could also include improvement to online services like Espacenet and the European Patent Register.
Social responsibility and transparency
In this area the EPO is turning its eyes further afield. How much do the general public know about the patent system or the EPO for that matter? Clients come to us with a varying degree of knowledge; from large corporate innovators who are IP savvy to small start-ups who know little about the patent system. Should the EPO be doing more to engage with the public? If so, how? Perhaps targeting school and university science students may help. These people are likely to be future inventors and patent attorneys, so perhaps a more informed scientific community will become more knowledgeable purchasers of patents and IP services.
EPO also wants to know what it can do for the environment. The UKIPO currently has a ‘green channel’ where environmentally friendly applications can apply for accelerated processing. Maybe this is something the EPO could consider. Another idea could be reduced fees for applications which solve some of the most pressing environmental and sustainability issues of the time.
Consultations can present a good opportunity to let big organisations know your feelings. The EPO has promised to conduct this survey in an open and transparent manner. If you submit your response in an EPO official language (English, French, or German), and give your consent, your comments may even be published on their website. We cannot know at this stage how the EPO will go about delivering on any of the issues, but we look forward to seeing where the results of the consultation can take the EPO.
Andrew North 27 February 2019