European inventors to be recognised in Venice
EPO President Benoît Battistelli says awards are to highlight the hard work of men and women who have contributed towards economic success.
Benoît Battistelli | Photo credit: EPO
European Patent Office (EPO) President Benoît Battistelli, explaining why his agency had organised the European Inventors Awards, said, "I think inventors are not recognised enough in our society, in my view inventors are modern heroes of our time.
"These people are the ones who will be able to find solutions, to the main challenges we face. They also boost economic productivity, innovation, and create jobs."
Speaking to journalists before Thursday's awards ceremony in Venice, he highlighted the importance of innovation and patents to the EU economy.
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Quoting figures from a 2016 joint survey with the European Commission, he noted that those industries which relied on intellectual property rights (IPRs) to produce goods made up 42 per cent of Europe's GDP, employed 38 per cent of the EU workers, and exported goods worth €1,261bn.
Therefore, said Battistelli, it was important to highlight the work of men and women who created the inventions that made such a large contribution towards Europe's economy.
"The main objective of the awards is to highlight the work of the men and women, and the teams, that have made discoveries, turned them into inventions and patents, and then into economic success," he said.
"Patents in my view are the most efficient tools to develop more innovative capacities, also more and more I am convinced governments and the EU is developing policies to boost innovation."
Despite growing competition from outside Europe on the number of patents created, especially from Asia and the US, he was confident that Europe was still competing effectively, pointing out that it exports three times more patents than it receives from outside.
Key to ensuring Europe's position as a leading force in research and development is the creation of an EU unitary patent granted. Though the EPO standardises the procedure of granting patents, the actual application is still done on an individual, national basis.
An EU-wide patent would simplify the process and also reduce costs by 70 per cent for the inventor or organisation, if they wanted to protect their patent across the whole of Europe.
Currently 26 countries out of the 28 member states have agreed to back a unitary patent. Spain and Croatia are the only countries that have not signed up.
An important part of the comprehensive patent is also the creation of a single European patent court, which was planned to be based in London.
Battistelli said the creation of the court would be a real step forward, as it would be the first time supranational agency with competencies granted by the member states could take decisions on disputes between two private entities.
"As with every EU treaty it has be ratified by each national parliament, before it can come into force. 12 out 26 countries have already signed up. But of course with Brexit this has caused some delays in the ratification process."
The newly elected UK government has confirmed it will ask Parliament to ratify the unitary patent, and indicated that this will be done in the next weeks or months.
However, Basttistelli added that although the UK is still an EU member with access to the single market, depending on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, it may have to withdraw from the single unitary patent, and the court moved to another EU country.
For today's awards, 15 inventors have been nominated in five different categories from 12 different countries. This will be the 12th year of the award and winners will not receive any financial reward.
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