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17 November 2017

This year’s meeting of the US
Bar-EPO Liaison Council
, a forum to facilitate informal exchanges with US
applicants, took place at the EPO’s Munich headquarters on 15 November.
Consisting of representatives of IP special-interest groups and IP sections of
State Bar associations, the Council provides the EPO and US Bar representatives
with an excellent opportunity to discuss contemporary issues in
the patent system and to address questions of mutual interest. For the EPO, it
is also a valuable opportunity to present recent developments at the EPO and
gather feedback from US users, currently the EPO’s largest origin of patent

The agenda covered a wide range
of issues. EPO President Benoît Battistelli gave an overview of recent
developments, highlighting in particular the role of the EPO as a global player
and the activities of the Office in the area of international cooperation. The
President also outlined the EPO’s ongoing initiatives to enhance timeliness and
quality. Participants expressed their high appreciation of the Office’s
continuous efforts to improve its performance and timeliness, while continuing
to improve quality further. The participants also showed great interest in
current efforts to establish the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court.

Discussions also focussed on
developments in the area of the Patent Cooperation Treaty and cooperation among
the IP5, the forum of the five largest intellectual property offices, with US
practitioners giving positive feedback on tools such as the Global Dossier. The
good progress of work on procedural and substantive patent law harmonisation
within the IP5 Patent Harmonisation Experts Panel (PHEP, a technical body of
the IP5) and the Group B+ was reviewed. Finally, participants had an exchange
of views on special areas of European practice including the patenting of
biotechnological inventions in Europe.

Feedback from US Bar members
revealed that the meeting had helped them deepen their understanding of
European patent practice and they welcomed the possibility of another such
meeting in 2018.

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