On 11 October 2017, António Campinos was elected President of the European Patent Office by the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation. Mr Campinos is the first Portuguese national to be appointed as President of the European Patent Office, succeeding Benoît Battistelli of France. The role has previously fallen to French, German, British, Swiss and Dutch nationals, so this is a significant step in terms of diversification and a tremendous accolade for Mr Campinos and Portugal generally.
Mr Campinos has been Executive Director of the European Intellectual Property Office since 2010 and has been credited with providing a more efficient and engaged service, making intellectual property more accessible and user-friendly for smaller businesses. It is hoped he will bring the same pragmatism and dynamism to the European Patent Office. Mr Campinos will sit as President for a five year term which is due to commence on 1 July 2018.
However, the role will not be without its challenges, particularly regarding the pending implementation of the Unitary Patent and associated Unified Patent Court. Under the proposed system, the EPO will be able to receive a single patent application which will cover all participating EU Member States.
However, following Brexit, and absent any proposals for a bilateral treaty, it remains uncertain whether the UK will participate in the UPC and if it does what role London will play in hosting a branch of the Central Division. The UK and Germany are yet to ratify the UPC Agreement and, with a challenge to the system currently pending before the German Federal Constitutional Court, further delay is anticipated. Indeed, the Provisional Application Phase will be unable to start whilst ratification by these two countries is delayed.
Fieldfisher provided comments to the World Intellectual Property Review. The report containing these comments can be found here.