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by Charl Goussard, NAIP Legal Research

On the 1st of March 2010, Benoit Battistelli triumphed as the sixth president of the EPO. Securing the required two third majority votes from the Administrative Council of the EPO was no easy task. It took no less than four sittings of the Council, which is made up of delegates from all the member states of the Organization, to finally elect Mr. Battistelli for a term of five years.

As can be expected from such a tough election, the result was met with some criticism, mostly questioning the lengthy process and the choosing of Battistelli.

What cannot be denied is Battistelli’s superior diplomatic talent. Shortly after the first Council vote, Battistelli and Danish candidate, Kongstad, released a joint statement in which they proposed for Battistelli’s presidency, with Kongstad as Chairman of the Administrative Council. They even went on to publish a manifesto addressing major topics such as the PCT, EPO Human Resources, issues addressing Cooperation, and proper governance of the EPO.

Although the Administrative Council rejected this joint proposal, the progress made was that of cooperation between Battistelli and Kongstad. Soon after the third Council vote, Kongstad announced his withdrawal from the election and Denmark openly supported Battistelli. This was an important diplomatic move that benefited Battistelli in the long run.

Since election results in the Council are confidential, it is hard to speculate what exactly made Battistelli defeat Roland Grossenbacher, his Swiss opponent and other front-runner for the EPO presidency. A look at Battistelli’s background might provide the answer.

Currently, Battistelli heads the French Patent and Trade Mark Office, a position he has held since May 2004. In addition, Battistelli has been actively involved with the EPO for the past five years.

Battistelli believes that his experience will help him address the pressing staffing issues and grievances which exist in the EPO and manage with a firm hand. He has already committed himself to providing a more transparent organization for EPO staff members as well as better explanations of responsibilities and actions. In reaction to Battistelli’s election, the EPO Central Staff Committee said that they are hoping that the newly elected President of the EPO will display the much needed competence to communicate effectively with staff and to value their contributions and rights.

Schooled in Law and a graduate of National School of Public Administration (Ecole Nationale d’Administration, ENA) Battistelli is well-experienced in transnational trade issues. He has held various trade related posts with French government departments, notably Deputy Trade Commissioner at the French Embassies in Italy, Turkey and India. More recently, Battistelli was Chief Advisor to the Industry Minister, Mr. Nicole Fontaine, former President of the European Parliament.

Battistelli also has experience working with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Thus, facilitating cooperation among the EPO’s 36 member states and among the EPO and other organizations should not be as daunting a challenge.

When Battistelli takes up his post on the 1st of June, 2010, this Frenchman will be the second French EPO president and the first EPO president who have previously held the position of Chairman of the Administrative Council.

Battistelli, a French national, is fluent in French, English, Italian and has basic German language skills. He is a husband and father of three, and at home in the French municipality of Saint-Germaine-en-Laye he is deputy mayor in charge of culture.


1. http://www.ipjur.com/blog2/index.php?/archives/141-BREAKING-NEWS-Mr.-Benoit-Battistelli-to-become-next-President-EPO.html

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beno%C3%AEt_Battistelli

3. http://www.epo.org/topics/news/2010/20100301.html

4. http://www.eplawpatentblog.com/eplaw/2010/03/epo-beno%C3%AEt-battistelli-france-elected-epo-president.html


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