OJ EPO 2020, A1 - Report on the 161st and 162nd meetings of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (9 October, and 11 and 12 December 2019 respectively)

The 161st and 162nd meetings of the Administrative Council were held in Munich, under the chairmanship of the Chairman, Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ).

At its 161st meeting the Council noted the exhaustive report given by the President of the European Patent Office, António CAMPINOS, on his activities. Following a broad exchange of views, the Council expressed its high appreciation for the Office's achievements and also for the new configuration of such reporting, which was now linked to the five goals of the Strategic Plan 2023. The Council further noted the report of the President of the Boards of Appeal (BoA) Carl JOSEFSSON, covering all main aspects of the boards' activities for the first 6 months of 2019, and praised the BoAʹs successful achievements. The Chair of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BoAC) reported on its 7th meeting. Furthermore, meeting in confidential session, the Council addressed the conditions for future membership in the European Patent Organisation.

At its 162nd meeting the Council was invited to address several items of high significance. To this effect it firstly noted the extensive oral report of the President on the achievements to date under each of the five goals of the Strategic Plan 2023, and took the opportunity to express its high appreciation for the results and clear reporting. The Council passed its warm thanks to all staff, and further noted the reports of the respective chairmen of the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC), the Committee on Patent Law (CPL), the Technical and Operational Steering Committee (TOSC), the Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds on Pension and Social Security (RFPSS SB), as well as the report of the deputy chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Academy (A/SB).

Turning to 2020 the Council gave a unanimous favourable opinion to the annual work plan, the first of its kind, which had been developed in conjunction with the Strategic Plan 2023. It complimented the Office for pursuing ambitious targets which it found inspiring. The Council also approved the orientations for recruitment and for the new IT projects to be developed in the context of the co-operation with the Member States.

On building matters the Office presented its preferred scenarios for the Building Investment Programme, as well as proposed priorities and timeline. Following a broad exchange of views on the merits and issues arising from the document and an intervention by the chairman of the BoAC, the Council welcomed in particular the overall approach, the additional information provided and the assurance that individual project decisions will be submitted for its approval. It unanimously endorsed the proposal to further develop the scenarios recommended by the Office. It also approved the proposed sequence of projects, and noted the estimated project costs and timelines calculated in the feasibility studies.

Turning to budgetary and financial matters, the Council unanimously approved the draft Budget and table of posts for 2020 as well as the budget estimates for the four following years. It further endorsed the actuarial valuation and the measures proposed regarding pension contribution rates, the yearly outcome of applying the salary method and further financing measures taken in the field of pensions. The Council also had a broad exchange of views on the proposed package of fee-related measures, including the inflation-based biennial fee adjustment, a simplification of fees, further alignment of the European and PCT fees, the creation of incentives for applicants to enhance quality and efficiency, an increase of the appeal fee and further refunds for withdrawals. This package was unanimously adopted.

On long-term financial sustainability, the Council was presented with a list of possible measures identified by an external consultant, as well as with the position of the Office on the best way ahead, the consultations planned, the timelines for submitting proposals and for implementation. The Council highlighted its strong preference for a safe approach, i.e. selecting the prudent ʺbase scenario 2ʺ. The documents received a unanimous favourable opinion.

Turning to the draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Administrative Council and the Office, the Council provided a favourable opinion and welcomed the very collaborative process as between its Chair, the President of the Office, the President of the BoA, and the chairman of the BoAC. The Memorandum was acknowledged to strike the right balance between different needs and allowed better support of the Council on legal matters. The finalised Memorandum will be signed by the Council Chair and the President of the Office.

Finally, in both meetings the Council took a number of decisions on individual positions, hence:

  •  re-appointing in its 161st meeting Habip ASAN (TR) as chairman of the TOSC, Carlos GONCALVES DE MELO MARINHO (PT) and Gabriella MUSCOLO (IT) as alternate members of the BoAC, as well as Guus BROESTERHUIZEN (NL) and Darina KYLIÁNOVÁ (SK) as members of the Appeals Committee; and appointing Pascal FAURE (FR) as member of the Board 28;
  •  renewing in its 162nd meeting the term of Hannes SCHUH (AT) as member of the Board of Auditors; appointing Florence GALTIER (FR) and Javier VERA ROA (ES) as alternate members of the BoAC; re-appointing Prodromos TSIAVOS (GR) as member of the A/SB; appointing Gerald PILZ (AT) as member of the RFPSS SB, as well as Sir FORWOOD, Mr MOHLER, Ms ADAMCZAK, Mr BLOK, Mr TENAGLIA, Mr THORLEY respectively as chair, alternate chair and members of the Council Disciplinary Committee for the next 2 years.

The Council also decided on appointments, reappointments and promotions to and in the Boards of Appeal.

Finally, in its 162nd meeting still, the Council expressed its high gratitude and paid special tribute to its Honorary Chairman, former Chairman, first chairman of the BoAC and long-standing member, Roland GROSSENBACHER (CH), on the occasion of his retirement.

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