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Citation: OJ EPO 2016, A1
Online publication date: 29.1.2016

Report on the 146th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (16 and 17 December 2015)

The Administrative Council held its 146th meeting on 16 and 17 December 2015 in Munich, under the chairmanship of Jesper Kongstad (DK).

After noting the activities report of its chairman, the Council heard the President of the Office, Benoît Battistelli, report on the latest developments at the Office. The remarkable results achieved by the Office in terms of production, productivity and quality were highly appreciated. Delegations nevertheless again expressed concern about the deterioration in the social climate, and called for initiatives and genuine efforts from all parties involved to seek compromise solutions to end a situation detrimental to the proper functioning of the Office and to the public image of the whole Organisation. The Council hoped that the independent, external social study to be launched at the beginning of 2016 would be a significant contribution to improvement. The Council noted information provided in a document drafted jointly by its chairman and the President on the preparation and organisation of that study.

The Council then had an exchange of views on the envisaged structural reform of the EPO boards of appeal, at the end of which it mandated its Board 28 to draw up guidelines for such a reform, which would then serve as a basis for the President in drafting a proposal to be submitted for decision to the Council, if possible at its March 2016 meeting.

Patricia García-Escudero Márquez (ES), chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of the Academy of the European Patent Organisation, then reported on the board's 16th meeting, held on 18 November 2015.

Under appointments/elections, the Council first noted that its chairman's mandate would end on 30 June 2016. His successor would be elected at the Council's 147th meeting, in March 2016. Guus Broesterhuizen (NL) and Jørgen Smith (NO) were reappointed members of the Appeals Committee for 2016, together with Darina Kyliánová (SK) as alternate member. The Council also approved the composition of its Disciplinary Committee for 2016 as proposed by its chairman.

The Council then made a series of reappointments to the boards of appeal, namely:

  • Gérard Weiss (FR) was reappointed as a legally qualified member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, with effect from 1 April 2016;
  • Theodora Karamanli (GR) and David Thomas Keeling (GB) were reappointed as legally qualified members of the boards of appeal, both with effect from 1 March 2016, as was Robert Cramer (NL) with effect from 1 April 2016;
  • François Rousseau (FR) and Mario Stern (DE) were reappointed as technically qualified members of the boards of appeal, both with effect from 1 March 2016, as were Winfried Marx (DE) and Beat Stolz (CH), both with effect from 1 April 2016, Erwin Frank (AT) and Nikolaos Perakis (GR), both with effect from 1 June 2016, and Philipp Lanz (AT) and Michel Léouffre (FR), both with effect from 1 July 2016.

Under legal and international affairs, the Council approved the continuation, for a period of three years and nine months commencing on 1 July 2016, of the reduction in the fee for a supplementary European search for international applications on which the international search report or supplementary international search report was drawn up by another European International Search Authority. On a proposal from the Office, it also approved an adjustment of the concept underlying the reduction in the search price for specific categories of applicants from certain member states with working agreements on search co-operation.

On the unitary patent, the chairman of the Select Committee, Jérôme Debrulle (BE), reported on the committee's 17th and 18th meetings, held on 17 November and 15 December 2015 respectively. The Council was particularly pleased to note that a series of agreements concerning the implementing rules, the budgetary and financial rules, the level of the renewal fees and the distribution of the renewal fees between the EPO and the participating member states had been reached and formalised in a complete secondary legal framework.

The Council then noted the oral report of the chairman of the Technical and Operational Support Committee, Josef Kratochvíl (CZ), on the committee’s 81st meeting, held on 29 September 2015 in Munich.

The chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security, Matthias Bank (DE), reported on the most recent developments concerning the funds, and stressed the urgent need to find suitable candidates to fill the vacant positions on the board. The Council took note of his report and congratulated him and the Fund Administration on the outstanding results achieved.

On personnel/policy matters, the Council, having agreed to a proposal from the Office that the Service Regulations henceforth be regularly reviewed in order to keep the legal framework applicable to staff up to date, approved two amendments to those regulations.

Turning to financial and budgetary matters, the Council noted the oral report of the chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, Christoph Ernst (DE), on the committee's 113th meeting, held in Munich on 22 and 23 October 2015.

Having approved amendments proposed by the Office as result of the periodical review of the Financial Regulations, the Council approved an adjustment of fees and prices with effect from 1 April 2016.

The Council then unanimously approved a transfer of € 200 million from the funds available in the Office's Treasury to the RFPSS’s dedicated pension fund.

Lastly, the Council unanimously adopted the 2016 authorisation budget (amounting to EUR 2 131 685 000) and table of posts, and approved the financial estimates for 2017-2020. The staff complement will remain stable at 7 075. The adjustments of EPO salaries and pensions with effect from 1 July 2014 and 1 July 2015 are included in the budget.

All the documents approved by the Council for publication on a case-by-case basis can be found under the following link:

www.epo.org/about-us/organisation/documentation/ac-documents.html