ECTA has created a Patent Committee. This is quite a surprising move considering that ECTA has the reputation of being an association specialized in other IP rights, particularly trademarks.
At first glance, it is surprising that a reputed trademark association like ECTA has started engaging in the patent field. However, such an engagement in the patent field is quite logical if we consider the evolution of ECTA in terms of subjects covered over the last two decades, the recent patent-related developments in the EU, and the future tasks of the Patent Committee.
First, ECTA is no longer purely a trademark association and has become active in other IP fields, such as geographical indications, designs, copyright, artificial intelligence and data, international trade, and Internet issues, amongst others.
Second, patents are no longer purely national rights but have become international with the launch of the unitary patent system, the first supranational patent right in the EU, the Unified Patent Court (UPC), and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as the highest court in this new system.
After regular exchanges with the European Commission and the EUIPO, it became clear that ECTA needed to keep pace with the developments and enter the field of patents, becoming a trusted interlocutor and advising both institutions in this domain.
Third, the new tasks of the Patent Committee will focus on all post-grant procedures, especially the new Patent Package of the European Commission, as well as other issues that are typically dealt with by experienced patent lawyers who are mainly active in patent litigation.
ECTA has a membership base that reflects such knowledge but also seeks new patent experts to become members and establish strong expertise in this field. To achieve this, ECTA has established a temporary Patent Committee operational for four years. The ECTA Supervisory Board voted unanimously in favor of such a “test period” during the ECTA Autumn Meeting in Turin in October 2023.
The mission of this new committee is to assemble the already existing patent-related knowledge within ECTA, as well as create and establish new expertise in the field of post-grant patent procedures, focusing on the Unitary Patent and the UPC system. This includes the PMAC (Patent Mediation and Arbitration Centre) and the Patent Package, which the European Commission proposed in April.
ECTA, with its European expertise and membership in all 27 Member States and experts in patent litigation (including SEP litigation and FRAND negotiation experience), aims to address this. It is the Patent Committee’s vision to give neutral and unbiased advice to the European stakeholders, free from monetary interests and strictly following the core principle of ECTA, namely caring for a balance of rights in the EU.
With the EUIPO becoming more active in the fields of patents, ECTA — who has always been a close partner to the EUIPO — will also interact with the Office to establish new registries and procedures, as well as discuss how patent experts can be attracted to work for the EUIPO. Any new system has to be considered in the long run, rather than focusing on what the EU patent landscape looks like nowadays.
It will be the destiny of the new Patent Committee to examine these and any future questions. ECTA does not want to miss this opportunity to become engaged in safeguarding a balanced and well-equipped EU patent system for the benefit of all users, the competition, and the citizens of the EU.
If you are interested in serving on the new ECTA Patent Committee, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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