Home News Boosting innovation in Europe. EPO and EIC collaboration 

Boosting innovation in Europe. EPO and EIC collaboration 

June 3, 2024

With the goal of boosting innovation in Europe, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA), the agency overseeing the implementation of the European Innovation Council (EIC), reaffirmed their commitment to work together (https://www.epo.org/en/news-events/press-centre/press-release/2024/1152275). 

Recently, the two organisations took stock of their joint activities over the past year, which centred on the EIC and agreed to discuss extending co-operation.  

EPO President António Campinos said: “By combining the technology and patent expertise of the EPO with the financial muscle of the European Innovation Council, we are helping innovative startups and SMEs across Europe turn their ideas into products and services. Not only does this advance technology; but it can also create jobs and boost economic growth. And the new Unitary Patent, which now provides owners of newly granted European patents with more affordable and efficient protection in Europe, will only increase the impact of our co-operation in future.” 

Marc Lemaître, Director General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission and Jean-David Malo, Director of EISMEA said: “Our commitment to longer-term collaboration is crucial. Connecting the EIC’s support for groundbreaking ideas with the EPO’s expertise in patent protection will accelerate the journey from concept to commercialisation and ensure robust intellectual property safeguards. It will allow both organisations to stay on top of technology developments and to ensure the EIC supports critical technologies for the EU’s future competitiveness.” 

The cooperation between the EPO and the EIC has resulted in a fruitful outcome, in the form of successful pilot projects in 2022 and 2023 and the signature of a letter of intent in June 2023 between the EPO and EISMEA. Under the pilot projects, EPO patent examiners, experts in their respective technology fields, helped the EIC to assess the technological novelty and inventiveness of fifty seven projects being considered for an EU grant. In 2024 the EPO will assess a further hundred such files for the EIC. 

A one-stop shop for patent protection in Europe 

The new Unitary Patent, administered by the EPO, provides a one-stop shop for patent protection in Europe, underlining the value of European co-operation.  

The Unitary Patent system reduces costs and streamlines procedures whilst increasing transparency and legal certainty, by allowing applicants to enjoy their recently granted European patent as a single right in, by now, seventeen EU member states, through a single procedure with a single annual renewal fee, and single legal system before the Unified Patent Court

As shown in the EPO statistics and trends centre (https://www.epo.org/en/about-us/statistics/statistics-centre#/unitary-patent), in less than on year the Unitary patent has been widely used by patent owners from around the world. 

Until now, 27720 requests for unitary effect have been received, from which 26872 (96,9%) have been registered, 788 (2.8%) are pending and 34 (0.1%) have been withdrawn. 

It has been especially used by European SMEs, who have requested to convert nearly one in three of their European patents into a Unitary Patent.  

The benefits of the Unitary Patent will certainly influence on the decisions on project funding to be taken by the EIC with the support of the EPO and EISMEA

Article by Joaquim Ferrer.

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