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EPO concludes working agreement on search co-operation with Slovenian Intellectual Property Office (SIPO)

5 September 2023

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On 4 September, the European Patent Office (EPO) and Slovenian Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) concluded a working agreement on search co-operation. EPO President António Campinos was welcomed to Slovenia by Mr Matjaž Han, Minister of the Economy, Tourism and Sport, and by SIPO Director Ms Karin Žvokelj. In Otočec, Ms Žvokelj and President Campinos signed the agreement, which aims to help the national office provide its users with high-quality search products in a timely manner. Slovenia becomes the 17th contracting state with which the EPO currently has a working agreement on search co-operation in place.

President Campinos’s exchanges with Minister Matjaž Han continued their discussions of December last year, when Slovenia celebrated its 20th anniversary of joining the EPC and started promoting the Unitary Patent system. Yesterday, they explored the benefits of the working agreement for Slovenian applicants, which becomes effective on 1 January 2024. Mr Campinos commented:

“I am pleased with the remarkable progress made since our last meeting with Minister Han in December. I would like to extend my gratitude to Ms Žvokelj, whose advocacy for the agreement’s benefits to Slovenian applicants and dedicated efforts in implementing the necessary legislative and administrative adjustments have made the signing of this agreement possible. This collaborative scheme brings about numerous positive outcomes, notably facilitating access to the Unitary Patent and significantly enhancing opportunities for users.”

On this occasion, Minister Matjaž Han expressed his satisfaction with the excellent co-operation with the EPO. He said that Slovenian companies are export-oriented and closely integrated into the European economy. “Slovenian companies will only be able to compete if they invest in research and development and are innovative. Inventions, however, must be properly protected by intellectual property rights. The agreement will improve conditions for the Slovenian economy, among others, as Slovenian companies will now be able to protect their innovative solutions and inventions more easily and cheaply with patents. This will allow Slovenian companies to be more competitive on the market.”

The accompanying administrative agreement to provide support for micro-entities and research centres will be concluded following the approval of the proposed extension of the scheme by the Administrative Council this December. The full scheme will support the country’s SMEs, universities and individual inventors through an 80% reduction of the fee paid for the search.

SIPO Director Ms Karin Žvokelj pointed out that patent policy is one of the key foundations of any modern innovation policy, and thus also of economic policy. The signing of the agreement makes it easier, faster and, in some cases, cheaper for Slovenian companies to obtain high-quality information from the EPO on whether their invention meets all the conditions for a patent. Applicants will thus be able to amend their patent application, if necessary, at an early stage of the national patent grant procedure and file the patent application for the same invention with the EPO or other offices in due time. Ms Žvokelj added that SIPO will continue to be a reliable partner for Slovenian business and will seek solutions that help and support all those who wish to protect their intellectual property.

During the mission, President Campinos had the opportunity to meet with high-ranking representatives of Krka pharmaceutical company at their headquarters in Novo Mesto. Krka, approaching its 70th anniversary, is one of Slovenia’s leading patent applicants. The objective of this part of the mission was to exchange views and gain insights into the challenges within the Slovenian innovation landscape from a user perspective.


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