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C96 Pre-Council Seminar on Patent Quality in Europe

November 14, 2023

On 10 November 2023, in the picturesque city of Ljubljana (Slovenia), epi hosted a seminar titled “ Patent Quality in Europe“. This event took place on the eve of the 96th epi Council meeting.

During the first part of the seminar, Mr. Steve Rowan, Vice President for DG1 Patent-Granting-Process at the EPO, elaborated on the EPO’s commitment to quality. This commitment is grounded in three fundamental pillars: highly educated and seasoned experts as examiners, the use of cutting-edge tools, and a variety of avenues for gathering feedback from stakeholders. Mr. Rowan also discussed the measures taken by the EPO to maintain the quality for which it has been renowned over the first five decades of the EPC. The audience learned with interest that all three Examiners of a Division are now consistently involved already at the search stage of all EP applications since November 2023. Following his presentation, Mr. Rowan responded to questions posed by the moderator, Mr. Peter Thomsen, epi President, as well as inquiries from the audience.

The second part of the seminar centered around the Stakeholder Quality Assurance Panels (SQAPs), which have been introduced since 2019 and represent one of the EPO’s initiatives aimed at fostering feedback from users on patent quality. Ms. Emma O’Donnabhain, the EPO’s Principal Director of Quality and Practice Harmonization, delivered an introductory presentation, shedding light on the historical development and organizational structure of SQAPs. Mr. Marek Bury, Chair of epi’s EPPC Quality Working Group, presented a series of proposals for enhancing the effectiveness of SQAPs on behalf of epi.

Subsequently, epi members who have actively participated as assessors in the SQAPs shared their hands-on experiences during a panel discussion moderated by Ms. Katerina Hartvichova, epi Vice President. Ms. Valérie Mellet, Ms. Oana Boncea, and Mr. Paul Georg Maué offered personal insights from having acted as SQAP assessors and emphasized the advantages of engagement with SQAPs. They also candidly acknowledged the considerable time and effort invested in these panels. However, they noted that this dedication was richly rewarded by the opportunity for open and fruitful discussions with other epi and EPO members belonging to their respective SQAP panels. It was concluded that the SQAPs are a very useful element to maintain and improve patent quality at EPO. epi and EPO should strive together to further explore how the SQAP process can become even more meaningful.

The seminar was concluded with a cocktail gathering, allowing all participants to further engage in discussions and share their valuable experiences.

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