João Negrão takes the reins at the EUIPO
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João Negrão takes the reins at the EUIPO

 João Negrão, incoming president of the EUIPO’s Boards of Appeal

The former BoA president won a high-profile race to succeed Christian Archambeau as executive director in July

João Negrão took office as the new executive director of the EUIPO today, October 2, after a tumultuous campaign to replace Christian Archambeau.

The Portuguese national was confirmed as EU member states’ pick to lead the Alicante-based office in July. He received 19 out of 27 votes.

He takes office ahead of a potentially transformative period for the EUIPO, which is expected to take on new responsibilities for geographical indications (GI) and standard-essential patents (SEPs).

Under new EU laws, the EUIPO will be responsible for evaluating applications for GI status.

The European Commission has also proposed that the EUIPO operate a register of SEPs, carry out essentiality checks, and determine fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) royalties.

The latter proposal has angered SEP owners, who have objected to the EUIPO’s lack of experience with patents.

Negrão served as president of the EUIPO Boards of Appeal (BoA) from April 2021 until this month.

He saw off two other candidates in the race for the EUIPO top job – INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo and Andrea Di Carlo, the office’s deputy executive director.

The campaign began last November after the EUIPO’s management board decided not to extend Archambeau’s contract.

That move took most observers, and Archambeau himself, by surprise.

In a leaked recording of a speech last November, obtained by Managing IP, Archambeau told EUIPO staff the decision to remove him was an example of “ugly politics” that had been initiated by Munich.

Multiple observers told Managing IP they considered that comment to be a reference to the EPO.

Managing IP also revealed that the French government, which nominated Sanz de Acedo, complained to the EPO over alleged interference in the race.

At the time, an EPO spokesperson said the office didn’t comment on bilateral relations with member states or other stakeholders.

Negrão is a close friend of EPO president and fellow Portuguese national António Campinos.

He served as the latter’s head of cabinet from 2010 until 2011, when Campinos was executive director of the EUIPO.

Negrão then worked as the EUIPO’s director of international cooperation and legal affairs until he was elected BoA president.

In a statement issued today, Negrão said: “Leading the EUIPO on its new path is an immense privilege.

“Together with all the staff of the EUIPO, I look forward to strengthening cooperation with IP offices and user associations across the EU, as well as with the EU institutions, to ensure that together we continue to effect positive change in the IP system.”

Gordon Humphreys, chair of the First and Third Boards of Appeal, will serve as interim BoA president until a permanent successor is chosen.

The EUIPO management board is expected to discuss the BoA vacancy at its next meeting in November.

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