27 June 2022
On 23 June user representatives convened virtually within the
framework of the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO)
for an exchange on the latest developments in the European patent system.
In his welcome address, President António
Campinos highlighted the crucial role of SACEPO members in helping the EPO to
improve the quality of its products and services. User feedback, he added, is
particularly important when it comes to improving the EPO’s audit compliance
figures, especially on grants.
Key channels for user feedback are Stakeholder
Quality Assurance Panels (SQAPs) which consist of groups of patent
experts brought together to discuss EPO practices and suggest improvements. Commenting on this year’s panels, the
President said: “We want to take the SQAPs further, so we can – with your
help – understand all stages of the patent granting process, covering the full
life of the file“.
During the meeting users were also given
an update on the Unitary Patent package, due to be launched this winter.
Detailed information is also available online in the updated Unitary Patent Guide and Frequently
Digital transformation was another key topic
on the agenda. Discussions covered the latest
status of oral
proceedings by video conference, as well as developments in
IT co-operation, including the first EP validation and PCT e-filings via the
new Front Office filing software for national patent offices.
SACEPO members commended the EPO on its achievements in developing the Front Office
SACEPO members also welcomed the key findings of the EPO’s
new study on the
grace period, which
analyses the impact of the strict novelty requirement under the EPC on
Lastly, the EPO introduced the new Ombuds Office set up in
April 2022. Complementing the user service
charter, the Ombuds Office aims to support
external stakeholders who experience difficulties in their dealings with the
Office and continuously enhance the user experience.
Christoph Ernst, Vice-President for
Legal and International Affairs, thanked all SACEPO members for the inspiring and insightful exchange of
views. Their open and frank input, he noted, will contribute to further raise
the bar regarding all activities of the EPO.