How Zoom helps increase transparency!

By ganerationlmn 4 Min Read
How Zoom helps increase transparency!

On behalf of its 38 member states, the European Patent Office (IEP), based in Munich, encourages innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth across Europe. With more than 180,000 patent applications received annually, the organization faces strong demand. 45% of requests come from European companies, research institutions, and inventors, while 55% come from applicants in the US. Japan, China, Korea, and other countries who want to protect their technology in European markets.How Zoom helps increase transparency.

Nearly 134,000 patent applications were granted last year. Typically, around 3% to 4% of new European patents granted will be challenged (mainly by competitors) and then discussed in “oral opposition proceedings”. Before the pandemic always took place in person at the IEP. As COVID-19 measures prevented on-site hearings, the number of objections increased by hundreds each month. So oral opposition proceedings had to take place via video conferences.

Examining innovation

Patents are only granted for inventions that are new and inventive, that is. That is not just an obvious combination of known characteristics. Patent examiners compare the latest applications with the millions of documents in their databases to check whether the supposed invention is actually new. Even if examiners agree that a patent deserves to be granted. This may be challenged by competitors or the public if they have evidence or arguments that raise doubts. For example, about the novelty of the invention. Patent lawyers representing the patent owner and opponents argue their case in English. French, or German before a panel of IEP experts, sometimes over several days.

Adopting a digital court

The backlog of challenges was creating uncertainty in technology markets as it was unclear how long people would have to wait to find out whether a patent had been approved. Clarity on the scope of patents – what is allowed and what is excluded – needs to be immediate for the patent system to work well. However, resolving pending appeal hearings required a robust and reliable video communications platform.

The IEP found that Zoom’s accessibility features allowed access to the court system, helping to support diverse IEP applicants as well as attorneys. “Zoom was our preferred platform as it allows the use of interpreters and multiple audio channels. Especially as parties may be speaking in English, French, and German at these hearings,” explains Jeremy Philpott, communications manager at the European Patent Office. “We have adopted Zoom for all opposition hearings. Regardless of whether they require interpretation or not, and also for obtaining evidence from witnesses.”

“The advent of video [communications] for oral opposition proceedings has greatly increased the transparency of our judicial decision-making. Opposition hearings have always been public, but only a few hundred people would observe in person the more than 3,000 oppositions each year before the pandemic. Now that they are all on Zoom, we have thousands of spectators from all over the world. Such as law students, NGOs, and foreign patent holders”, adds Philpott.

In defense of expanding access to justice

While patent-related activities in Europe have been primarily concentrated in Munich. The market has expanded to patent-challenge legal services, involving lawyers based anywhere in Europe. Reducing physical barriers has helped globalize access to justice and improve the way lawyers serve their clients. The IEP will conduct all types of oral procedures exclusively on Zoom from September 2021

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