Munich
11 October 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Campinos elected as EPO president


António Campinos has been elected as president of the European Patent Office (EPO), succeeding Benoît Battistelli.

The administrative council of the European Patent Organisation elected Campinos on 11 October. His five-year term will start on 1 July 2018.

Campinos is currently the executive director of the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and former president of the Portuguese Patent Institute (INPI).

As president of INPI, Campinos served as the Portuguese representative on the administrative council of the European Patent Organisation.

A replacement for Campinos at the EUIPO is yet to be announced.

Outgoing president, Battistelli, said: “I’d like to congratulate António Campinos warmly on his election.”

“It is a victory of competence and impressive experience in IP. It’s also a victory for Europe in its diversity. It is the first time that a national from the South of Europe is appointed as the head of the EPO.”

He added: “This decisive outcome shows how the European Patent Organisation has matured in terms of implementing strong governance and providing leadership in decision making that will serve European innovation.”

Battistelli was elected president of the EPO in 2010 for a five-year term, which was extended for another three years in June 2014.

His leadership has played a role in bringing Europe’s unitary patent system to bear.

Battistelli also oversaw a record number of patent grants in 2016, with 96,000 issues. The EPO said this was the result of productivity and efficiency measures brought in under Battistelli.

However, Battistelli has proved a controversial figure in recent years, with the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) criticising Battistelli’s attempts to change work practices at the office, including an end to fixed wage increases and a move to promotions via seniority, rather than work performance.

SUEPO held demonstrations challenging this and what it called the unfair dismissal of several staff members, including senior official Laurent Prunier. Demonstrations were soon banned, exacerbating the problem.

Union Syndicale Brussels, one of the biggest trade unions in the European Public Service Union, joined with SUEPO and demanded an end to Battistelli’s “arbitrary anti-union action”.

It said: “These scandalous events at the EPO also result from a deficient governance structure encountered in many international organisations.”

In March, the International and European Public Services Organisation contacted German Chancellor Angela Merkel, raising its “extreme concern” with the EPO.

SUEPO has been contacted for a comment on Campinos’s appointment, but has yet to respond.

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