The welcome address was delivered by Maria Agró, President of the Italian Patent and Trade Mark Office while opening speeches were presented by Alfonso Gianni, Under-Secretary of Economic Development and Peter Vermeij, Vice-President of the European Patent Office. A keynote presentation was delivered by Catia Bastioli, CEO of Novamont and winner of the “Inventor of the Year 2007” award, which honors inventors who have made a significant contribution to innovation in Europe.
The theme of this year’s conference, “End to End Electronic Processing: How to survive when the EPO no longer accepts paper” highlighted the step by step approach that the EPO will implement in the effort to slowly phase out paper patent applications.
In the past ten years, the number of patent applications received at the EPO has more than doubled. By the end of the year, the European Patent Office (EPO) expects to receive a record total of around 221, 000 patent applications, a marked increase from the previous year. This is further proof of the growing interest in patents for the knowledge economy in Europe.
In Italy, a recent initiative of the Italian government aims at promoting the country’s IP policy with a view to fostering economic development. “We particularly foresee strengthening the protection rights such as patents and facilitate access to the IP system from both individuals and enterprises.” said Alfonso Gianni.
Alison Brimelow, President of the European Patent Office stated, “To move towards ‘E-to-E’, the EPO will focus on two major axes: Online filing and the ‘Self Service Model’. Online Filing across Europe will continue to be our flagship: It will support all elements on the patent filing –from application to appeal. We will complete the offering in 2008: A version with patent management system integration will be available for companies filing large numbers of applications, a browser version for other users.”
Brimelow emphasized that the EPO will give timely warning of and preparation for any changes and cut off dates for paper applications and going paperless will occur step by step, taking into account the needs of all the systems’ stakeholders.
More than 500 delegates from across Europe attended the conference, which developed through three parallel sessions including presentations, hands-on workshops featuring Online Services and esp@cenet ® as well as seminars detailing the patent granting procedure.
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