This content is from: Germany

EPO marks 40th anniversary of EPC

Over 500 figures from politics, government, industry and academia gathered in Munich last week to mark the 40th anniversary of the signing of the European Patent Convention

Among those present were President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy; Benoît Battistelli, President of the EPO; local and national politicians; and CEOs of global companies.

In his speech, Van Rompuy praised the achievements of the last 40 years as well as the recent agreements on the EU Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC): “The Unitary Patent marks the end of a 40-year odyssey and opens new horizons for European entrepreneurs.”

Speaking via a video message, Michel Barnier, EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, stated the importance of IP for the European economy, quoting a joint study published by the EPO with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market noting: "26% of jobs created in the European Union and 40% of GDP are generated by IPR-intensive industries".

At a panel discussion moderated by CNN’s Nina Dos Santos, senior figures from business and politics discussed the challenges concerning them most and also their recent efforts to foster innovation. UK IP minister Lord Younger of Leckie mentioned the UK’s so-called Patent-Box corporation tax cut and noted that quality will be the key to continued success with the UPC: "Users need certainty." Tian Lipu, Commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office in China, spoke of current efforts to convert “quantity [of patent applications] into quality.”

TomTom CEO Howard Goddjin said he eagerly awaits the Unitary Patent hoping this would remedy the current patent system which favours those with “deep pockets” while Ferdinando Becalli-Falco of GE Europe spoke of his hopes for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). "Nato has lost its raison d'être," he said, predicting it would shift from a "military to an economic alliance.”

The day’s celebrations began with the inauguration of the Bob-van-Bentham Plat, named after the EPO’s first President. Battistelli paid tribute to a man who was “instrumental in building up this new international organisation and shaping it along the lines of the European ideal” as Christian Ude, Lord Mayor of the City of Munich, unveiled the new public space.

Later, the European Inventor Hall of Fame was launched at the Deutsches Museum. Museum General Director Professor Wolfgang M. Heckl spoke about the "technology triangle" formed by the German Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office and the Deutsches Museum in Munich: "Together we form a nucleus of all that is brave and bold in technological progress.”

A new book detailing the history of the creation of the EPC, published in the three EPO languages, was distributed to all attendants to mark the occasion. Commissioned by the EPO and written by Pascal Griset, professor of contemporary history at Paris-Sorbonne, “The European Patent: A European Success story for innovation” chronicles the development of an agreement that has grown from seven contracting states to 38, covering 600 million people.

Read more on the event website and in Managing IP’s special supplement on the anniversary.

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