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Official Journal July 2021

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Citation: OJ EPO 2021, A56
Online publication date: 30.7.2021

Report on the 166th and 167th meetings of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (23 March 2021 and 29 and 30 June 2021 respectively)

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 166th and 167th meetings as e-meetings under its Chairperson Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ).

At its 166th meeting, the President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS, provided the Council with an extensive report on the Office's performance under each of the five main goals of the Strategic Plan 2023. He also presented information on preparations for the new normal, especially the launch of the consultation of external stakeholders. The Council noted with high satisfaction the President's report and congratulated the management and staff of the Office on their excellent results achieved under challenging circumstances.

The Council noted the activities report of its Chairperson and the report of the Chairperson of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BOAC), as well the management report of the President of the Boards of Appeal (BoA). The Council commended the President of the BoA and the BoA staff for the results achieved in 2020.

The Council also approved an amendment to the Rules of Procedure of the BoA, namely new Article 15a, which clarifies that the boards of appeal may hold oral proceedings pursuant to Article 116 EPC by videoconference.

At its 167th meeting, the Council was provided with the President's activities report in the form of a comprehensive video, featuring highlights from 2020 and showing the major changes the EPO had gone through, as well the progress made in its implementation of the Strategic Plan 2023. The President also highlighted improvements in both quality and timeliness, along with a significant drop in the Office's backlog. The digitalisation of the patent granting process - along with the digital file marketplace, digital file allocation and the digital talent marketplace – have also led to more flexible workload management, greater internal mobility, and efficiency gains. Several member states congratulated the President, management and staff for the excellent results, which showed the Office's resilience, ingenuity and commitment to adapting to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The Office presented an orientation document: ʺTowards a New Normalʺ, outlining how it can adjust to the new normal to continue delivering on its commitment to excellence. The document contains strategic orientations for increasing flexibility, collaboration and a sense of community at the EPO. After a lively debate in which some member states called for a cautious approach, the Council gave a unanimously favourable opinion. The Council also discussed and noted the Officeʹs approach to revising its medium-term building investment strategy in the light of the new normal.

The Council approved the following legal proposals:

  • The education and childcare benefits reform which, by introducing a fair and straightforward scheme, is to benefit all EPO parents and their children regardless of nationality, maintain the EPO's attractiveness, ease administration, and increase acceptance;
  • The new data protection rules, endowing the Office with a solid and future-proof system of data protection on a par with the data protection standards of other international organisation, including the EU.

Regarding financial matters, having noted the opinion of the Board of Auditors, the Council approved their report as well as the EPO's accounts for 2020. It lauded the Office's prudent approach to its planning assumptions in 2022, which take the impact of the pandemic into consideration.

Furthermore, the Council noted the reports of its chairperson and of the respective chairpersons of the Budget and Finance Committee, the Technical and Operational Support Committee, and the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS).

At its 166th and 167th meetings, the Council took several decisions on individual positions:

  •  Re-appointment of Mr Thomas GROFFMANN (DE) as Fund Administrator for a further five-year period;
  • Re-appointment of Mr Antti RIIVARI (FI) as Chairperson of the Committee on Patent Law Committee for a further three-year mandate;
  • Appointment of Mr Johannes Christian WICHARD (DE) and Ms Catherine CHAMMARTIN (CH) as members of the Board of the Administrative Council for three-year terms;
  • Re-appointment of Mr Peter STRÖMBERG (SE) as alternate external member of the BOAC for a further term of three years and appointment of Mr Julyan ELBRO (UK) as alternate member of the BOAC for a term of three years;
  • Appointment of Ms Isabel SERIÑÁ (ES) as deputy member of the Academy Supervisory Board of the European Patent Organisation for a term of three years;
  • Appointment of Mr Margus VIHER (EE) as alternate member of the Supervisory Board of the RFPSS.

And finally, appointments, re-appointments and promotions of several members and chairpersons of the BoA.

The Council and the President of the European Patent Office also paid tribute to the memory of Prof. Dr. Otto Leberl, former Chairperson of the Council, who recently passed away.

All the documents approved by the Council for publication on a case-by-case basis can be consulted at: