FICPI’s Robert Watson, Executive Vice President of FICPI’s Study & Work Committee, attended the June EUIPO Management Board and Budget Committee Meeting, to provide the FICPI perspective on salient points, representing our independent IP attorney members.

FICPI has a rotational seat as an observer at the EUIPO Management Board and Budget Committees (alongside a number of the user organisations).  A few user organisations have permanent observer status.

The Management Board and Budget Committee comprise delegations from the 27 EU member states (from either the IP Offices or Ministry with responsibility for IP), as well as from the European Parliament and European Commission. Other observers include the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP), the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO), and the European Patent Office (EPO).  Numerous members of EUIPO staff were at the meeting (alongside the senior team comprising the President, Christian Archambeau, plus his colleagues Andrea DiCarlo and João Negrão), and the Secretariat, provided by the International Cooperation Directorate.  The Staff Committee also sends two observers.

The main decision point was the adoption of the Consolidated Activity Report of the Office on 2021 – this will be presented to the Commission and Parliament and published in due course.  Other discussion points included an interim activity report for 2022, a report on the progress of the Boards of Appeal on their Strategic Plan, and reports on the SME fund and ECP6 (which relates to SMEs).  This last topic was a particularly relevant discussion to our members, given SMEs are a key client sector.

Assistance for SMEs

Although the SME Fund can be very useful to our existing clients, and for encouraging new clients, some of the proposals for the future development of ECP6 imply that Offices would consider providing advice to SMEs.  To guard against this become an accepted reality, I made the following oral intervention, based on established FICPI positions.

On behalf of our members, IP attorneys working in private practice for whom SMEs are a key client sector, we welcome many aspects of the implementation of the SME Fund and the work of ECP6.  The provision of education, information, tools and financing are clearly of a huge benefit to SMEs and thus the EU economy.  The report on the implementation of the fund in 2022 show the increasing involvement of representatives in guiding clients through the process (up from 15 % in 2021, to 43% in 2022) – the comments from some of the offices also demonstrate the involvement of national IP professionals in offering IP Scan services in co-operation with their National Offices.

However, we have always expressed concerns when IP Offices consider offering advice (rather than information) to applicants or potential applicants.

IP attorneys working in the EU are highly trained individuals, and an important EU business sector in themselves.  Many are heavily regulated on the national level and importantly carry indemnity insurance.

IP Offices offering advice, in contrast, are not regulated, not insured and may find themselves in a conflict of interest by both advising applicants and then examining their applications.

We therefore urge care in extending the support to SMEs to the provision of advice, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss any such proposal to offer advice with the relevant office directly.

Aligning with our colleagues for ECTA, we have already submitted our views on the fundamental flaws of the current IP pro bono scheme to the Office in writing, and we ask that these are considered when deciding whether to continue that particular aspect of the overall support.

This intervention will be ratified at FICPI’s upcoming ExCo in Cannes.  The broader topic of the Roles of the IP Offices and the IP profession in the IP system will be discussed in a plenary session of the Cannes Congress where Pascal Faure, the Director General of the French Office (INPI) will be speaking, alongside the EUIPO and EPO, and senior IP professionals, Michael Caine, Luis Alfonso Duran, and me.  The session will be moderated by our President, Julian Crump.

The EUIPO’s report of the meeting can be found here.


FICPI’s view and involvement 

Independent IP attorneys help organisations protect and build value in their IP assets. FICPI brings IP attorneys from around the world together to connect, share knowledge and grow. 

Next steps

Register for the FICPI World Congress 2022, to be held in Cannes from 25-29 September. Early Bird rates close on 17th June.




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