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EPO and OAPI heads of office bilateral meeting

27 April 2023

EPO and OAPI heads of office

From left to right: Telmo Vilela, Principal Advisor to the President, António Campinos, President, Christoph Ernst, Vice-President, Gilles Requena, Chief Patent Research and Policy Officer

On 26 April, EPO President António Campinos and Denis Bohoussou, Director General of the
Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI),
met online to discuss strategic developments at both offices since they met in
Cameroon during the EPO President’s mission to Africa in December
2022.  The heads discussed their plan and
clarified the next steps for a validation agreement between the EPO and OAPI.

During the meeting, the EPO underlined its willingness to
provide comprehensive legal, administrative and technical assistance to OAPI
and its member states in order to facilitate the entry into force of the
validation agreement.

OAPI announced its intention to plan the entry in force
of the OAPI’s patent reform (from registration to substantive examination
system) at the same time as the Validation System in 2025. The EPO
underlined its support for these plans and will continue to contribute by
offering legal support and training to OAPI examiners and helping draft the
Patent Examination Guidelines.

The delegations discussed several joint activities, such
as cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries in the OAPI region, and the
Knowledge Transfer to Africa initiative (KT2A). The EPO
launched KT2A in April 2022 to disseminate the PATLIB network’s experience
and expertise beyond Europe’s borders. The initiative aims to foster innovation
and technology transfer in selected African universities, in close cooperation
with regional and national IP offices. OAPI announced that two universities
from its member states are joining the KT2A programme.

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Benefitting from

validation system offers the most advanced model of strategic cooperation for the
EPO and OAPI. It offers significant benefits to OAPI and its member states as
well as to the users. The validation agreement is expected to provide EPO
applicants with direct access to high-quality patent protection in 17 states in
Africa, a market of some 280 million inhabitants. 



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