Once again, PONS IP participated in the ‘Praktika Extern’ exchange program organized by The European Patent Office (EPO) with the aim of achieving a more fluent relationship between the agents and applicant companies from the different countries that make up the EPC European Patent Convention and their examiners.
PONS IP was the first Spanish agency to host this program, which has been running for more than seven years. Since then, we have shared very interesting experiences with expert examiners in different fields of technology.
For two weeks this year, an EPO examiner, engineer Peter Bartal, has worked especially with our PONS IP Patent Department to learn firsthand how our team works, accompanying them in meetings, reviewing issues and going deeper into our working procedures, and then preparing a final report to help them better understand the work our technicians face when filing a patent and to achieve a more fluent relationship with them.
In addition, the examiner provided training to employees on the EPO’s future plans and participated in a conference organized by the firm.
In a brief interview, examiner Peter Bartal explains the reasons behind choosing our firm as a place of exchange and talked about the most noticeable thing he has observed during these two weeks in terms of working methods and techniques.
What does the Praktika Extern program provide?
‘It’s helpful for me to see how applicants and their representatives work. As examiners, we don’t come into direct contact with applicants, and sometimes it’s difficult for us to see what they really want to patent. Thanks to my visit, I now better understand how to work, I can explain things better, argue better and work more efficiently’.
‘I guess it’s also an interesting experience for the people who work at PONS because they can see the other side, in other words, they see the nature of my work’.
Why did you choose PONS IP?
‘Because when the examiners applied for this program at the EPO, they presented us with a list of suggestions from companies, from law firms that had applied to host an examiner, and PONS IP, apart from being on the list, had the requirements that I was looking for, that is to say, a field as close as possible to mine. That is why PONS IP became my first choice, because it is better placed in terms of engineering’.
What would you highlight about the patent team at PONS IP?
‘I have been impressed by the quality of applications that are being submitted. There is a type of exam for representatives and one of the tests consists of writing an application based on a letter from the applicant, or mentor, and this is quite a tough exam. I thought they were doing very well, in fact, I was impressed. I’ve also seen that their technical knowledge and their good sense guide them a lot in the great work they do. In short, I would emphasize their important technical knowledge’.
Do you get the feeling that they are good professionals and in different fields?
‘Yes, especially on the technical aspect. About Biopharma: A colleague at PONS IP who is a space engineer sent a request for a cooling system. And we talked about honing on several details, such as verifying if the quality criteria were met. The technician told me about the operation of the system, a field that is alien to me, and I was impressed that although he has a very different specialty, he explained it really clearly and knows how it all works’.
Have you been surprised by the way that the Spanish people work in relation to the people in Munich?
‘Yes I have. At the EPO we have a lonely job, we are only in contact with colleagues from time to time, because to work more efficiently we decided to work in individual offices. However, here I see that it is a cultural thing for people to work in open spaces. They move around a lot, talk to each other, sort out doubts, etc. This reminded me of a work experience I had in an engineering office in Budapest, whose headquarters were in Barcelona. We worked a lot with other colleagues, in fact, that’s how I learned Spanish. The experience at PONS IP reminded me of that time and it was quite nostalgic’.
Anything else you feel is specific to agencies in Spain after your experience?
‘Another aspect that surprised me is that in the Spanish system, the technicians and the lawyers, that is to say, the scientific, technological and legal departments are very isolated from one another and this does not seem to me to be a good idea. This view is also held by a female lawyer, who prefers a German or Dutch model in which a patent lawyer has a very profound technical background and understands the field in which they are working very well’.
Patricia Ramos, Patent Director at PONS IP: ‘It is a real honor for us to be part of this positive and open experience from such a prestigious entity as the EPO once again. We look forward to continuing our partnership in this program’.