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EPO-CPVO conference in Brussels

"Supporting innovation in the plant sector with IP rights"

On 29 November the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) held a joint conference in Brussels to illustrate the way in which the two offices co-operate to support innovation in the plant sector. The conference attracted some 200 participants from industry and academia, the European Commission, European Parliament, legal practice, national patent offices, NGOs and the general public.

In their opening statements, high-level representatives of the EPO and the CPVO took stock of the first two years of co-operation. According to Margot Fröhlinger, EPO Principal Director for the Unitary Patent, European and International Legal Affairs, “the co-operation promotes information and transparency in the area of plant innovation. The CPVO and the EPO are jointly committed to ensuring that both breeders and industry maintain their confidence in the validity and quality of patents and plant breeders’ rights,” she said.

Martin Ekvad, CPVO President, said: “Basing our co-operation on an Administrative Arrangement will also in future contribute to a better understanding between our institutions on a technical and legal level. This helps us in turn to better inform industry and the public on the implementation of two mutually supportive IP systems.”

After both offices explained their roles and practice, three expert panels moderated by Anselm Kamperman Sanders, Professor of IP Law at Maastricht University, explored some of the key themes surrounding plant innovation. Speakers outlined how the EPO responded to the Commission Notice C/2016/6997 in relation to essentially biological breeding methods by proposing amendments of Rules 27(b) and 28 of the European Patent Convention to our Administrative Council earlier this year, and how these rules are now applied in the Office’s patenting practice.

Enhancing the transparency of IP rights was a further key topic of the conference, with speakers explaining how third parties, including the general public, can follow all stages of both the patent and PVR granting processes. Patent applications and granted patents are mandatorily published, which signifies that the teachings set out in these documents are freely accessible to the public, for instance in the EPO’s patent database Espacenet. PVR documents are publicly available from the CPVO, either directly from the office’s website or on request. Industry initiatives such as the Patent Information and Transparency Online (PINTO) database, which provides a link between a plant variety and a patent or patent application, aim to enhance transparency further.

Source: CPVO
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