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The European patent system: dealing with emerging technologies

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In light of recent controversial patent decisions in biotechnology, this article argues that the current European patent examination and opposition procedures do not suffice to balance the patent system These procedures do not provide sufficient guidance for patent examiners to deal effectively with the emerging life science technologies. The European Patent Office needs to instill more self-reflection into the patent system and foster interaction between the Office and patent stakeholders. In this respect, we propose that the EPO should establish an ex-ante, patent-granting advisory body that would consist of multidisciplinary staff drawn from various technical fields, and collaborate closely with the scientific community and other national bodies. It is expected that such an advisory body would provide an input to the existing patent system, since it would anticipate, control and reduce the possibility that patent examiners would issue low-quality patents with huge socio-economic consequences.
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Keywords: European patent system; biotechnology; patent assessment; patent prosecution; third-party participation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Legal and Economic Governance Studies,Institute for Innovation and Governance Studies, University of Twente, the Netherlands

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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