Improving access to patent status information is high on the European Patent Office’s agenda

At the end of October 2013, a delegation of senior patent office officials, patent attorneys and patent information professionals convened at the 2013 European Patent Office's (EPO) Patent Information Conference in Bologna Italy.  There were representatives from all over the world including Australia, China, Europe, Korea, Japan, the Middle East and the United States.

Susanne Hantos (DCC Senior Associate) was invited by the EPO to deliver the keynote speech at the official opening of the conference. The conference theme was devoted to legal patent status information.  In her speech, Susanne addressed the current needs that businesses have when understanding and minimizing risks.  The value of a patent hinges on its legal status.  As a patent attorney who specialises in assessing patent information to guide clients in avoiding IP risks, Susanne called for more accurate, timely, clear and accessible information. 

Access to Competitive Intelligence

Reliable information on the current status of a patent in many countries is the most difficult to find. Yet, such information is crucial for making business decisions.  More timely reporting of PCT national phase entries, for example, can enable a company to gain valuable business intelligence about their competitors and potential partners.  The calculation of patent expiration dates by all patent offices, not just the current few, would provide greater legal certainty to businesses.  These are just a few of the issues companies face and that were addressed by Susanne when it comes to patent legal status information.

WIPO Task Force to Improve Patent Status Access Standards

Both the EPO and WIPO are keen to improve the current state of unreliable status information.  At the conference, it was announced that WIPO will commence a task force that will work on the minimum standard concerning legal status events that will be reported by national patent offices.  This is a remarkable development as it will help patent attorneys to advise clients with more accuracy about the status of patents in various countries. As a direct outcome of Susanne's keynote speech, the Patent Information User Group (PIUG), of which she is the current President, has been invited to become a WIPO Observer to enable collaborative work on this important standard.

The most recent issue of the EPO News Bulletin, the EPO includes a summary of this initiative as well as a summary of Susanne's keynote speech in the article entitled "High-quality legal status data on patents is a must for business".