Examiners of the European Patent Office (EPO) at times make a study trip to countries or regions outside the EPO zone. When they do, a primary aim is an exchange of knowledge, promoting collaboration between the two parties.
Such an occasion presented itself last September. A delegation of four Examiners with their Director, who work in Munich and The Hague, set out for the US to visit our clients DSM Functional Materials (Elgin near Chicago), Dow Chemical (Freeport, Texas) and BASF Global (Tarrytown, New York). Huub Maas, Harrie Marsman and Otto Oudshoorn accompanied the Examiners and Director on behalf of V.O.
The company visits were partly devoted to clarifying certain EPO procedures, for example in the field of oppositions and making amendments in patent applications. Obviously, the introduction of the Unitary patent was dwelled upon at length. Also, some differences between the EPO procedures and the American patent system were addressed, especially regarding clarity in the claims. On their part, the Examiners were pleased to be brought up-to-date with information about recent new technologies developed by DSM, Dow and BASF; knowledge that might work out positively in the examination of their patent applications. In that context, they also visited various laboratories and production locations.
As a direct link between these multinationals and the EPO, the specialists of V.O. could make the connection between the two parties and provide insight into the problems encountered by applicants in following patent procedures and their expectations of the patent system.
Following the visit, the enthusiastic participants expressed their intentions to organise an "open visor" meeting more often. In view of the developments currently taking place in both the American and the European patent system, these intentions are very likely to materialize.