The EPO Gazette (the magazine of the EPO) of July 2008 reports on page 23 that some MEPs (Francesco Speroni, Carlo Casini, Gabriele Stauner, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Manuel Medina Ortega) members of the Legal Affairs committee (JURI) visited the EPO in early June:
JURI had well-versed experts on European patent matters on board who voiced interesting ideas about how to move the system forward. “We need to be legally creative” quickly became the catchphrase of the day when the discussion focussed on the question of possibilities of tying the EPO system to the Community legal order. The committee members also made it clear what they understood by “democratic control” of the EPO – a concept which, in recent years, had caused some headaches in our organisation, as it was used frequently in the context of resolutions concerning the patenting practice of the EPO in areas such as computer-implemented inventions and biotechnology: ensuring that the decisions of the EPO are subject to review by an independent judiciary. Some MEPs repeatedly asked the question whether the Alicante model of the OHIM could also apply to the EPO – a proposal which led to an in-depth discussion on legal issues and finally to a clarification of the differences in the institutional embedding of both offices.
One MEP highlighted that the EPO is in fact the legislator:
But the MEPs also reminded their hosts of how the decisions taken by the EPO’s instances are seen from an external perspective: “Although you are a technical body, you are taking political decisions”, Medina Ortega maintained.
Medina also highlighted that they were not coming to control them:
At the beginning of the meeting, the MEPs allayed potential fears that the EPO may see itself confronted with uncomfortable discussions about its institutional status or patenting practice in disputed areas of technology: “We have not come here to control you, as it were”, Manuel Medina Ortega (Socialists, ES), Vice-President of the Parliament from 1986 to 1987. “We have come here to learn and to understand how the EPO is functioning and how the Office views the pending initiatives.”