European patent system in focus at EU Presidency conference in Sofia
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The EPO joined the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in organising a conference on IP on 16 March in Sofia under the auspices of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The event was opened by senior Bulgarian officials including Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Demographic Policy Valeri Simeonov, Deputy Minister of Economy Lachezar Borisov, and President of the Bulgarian Patent Office Petko Nikolov, EPO President Benoît Battistelli, and senior officials of WIPO and the EU Intellectual Property Office. Almost 100 participants from government and the IP profession attended, including representatives of national patent offices from 25 European countries.
In his opening address, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Simeonov underlined that the quality and potential of an economy strongly depend on the development of a strong scientific and technology base in the country, as well as on entrepreneurship.
EPO President Benoît Battistelli outlined recent developments in the European patent system and the importance of patents in supporting innovation and economic growth, which is set to be boosted by the Unitary Patent: "European SMEs expect the timely launch of the unitary patent system," he said. "It will offer a more efficient and cost-effective option for EU wide patent protection, helping to support our inventors and the European economy." He also thanked the Bulgarian government and the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria for putting industrial property at the centre of the EU Presidency agenda. The EPO President presented recent initiatives aimed at improving the Office's services and explained how careful control of costs has allowed the EPO to reduce some of its fees from 1 April. Together with other cost-saving initiatives, the move will generate savings of some 25 million euros every year for the EPO's users, directly benefitting European enterprises.
Co-operation with Bulgaria
In a separate meeting, the EPO President and Deputy Prime Minister Simeonov discussed the strengthening of the European patent system as a factor in boosting innovation and the economy. Mr Simeonov expressed the support of the Bulgarian government for the start of the Unitary Patent system.
Mr Battistelli also met the Deputy Economy Minister, Lachezar Borisov, who highlighted the importance of the close co-operation between the Bulgarian patent office and the EPO. Mr Borisov underlined the role of IP as an enabler of technology transfer and further R&D.
In bilateral discussions with Bulgarian Patent Office President Petko Nikolov, joint activities and projects were addressed. Co-operation in all three main co-operation areas, namely training, patent information and awareness, and IT services and tools, has intensified in recent years, with a bilateral co-operation plan signed by the EPO and the Bulgarian office in 2015. Bulgaria has been a member state of the European Patent Organisation since 2002.