Lionel Baranes appointed new Vice-President of the European Patent Office's branch at The Hague

Munich / The Hague (ots) - The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation has appointed a new Vice-President to Directorate-General 1 (DG 1) of the European Patent Office (EPO). Lionel Baranes (54) is the successor to Jacques Michel, who has retired after 15 years as the head of DG 1. Mr Baranes, a French national, is an aviation engineer and graduate of the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique. He worked in the aerospace industry and held a top post at the French Ministry of Defence before being appointed Vice-President of the EPO.

The European Patent Office is divided into five Directorates-General, each headed by a Vice-President. Directorate-General 1 comprises the EPO's branch at The Hague and its sub-office in Berlin.

With a staff of over 2 200, DG 1 is the largest of the Directorates-General. Its tasks include patent searching, documentation, the substantive examination of patent applications and the handling of oppositions to granted patents. Jacques Michel's particular achievements since taking office in January 1987 include the implementation of a sweeping programme of technical and structural modernisation, making DG 1 the world's leading centre for patent search and documentation. Extensive automation measures have provided the EPO's patent examiners with electronic access to virtually the entire stock of technical knowledge contained in patent documents and technical and scientific articles from the industrialised nations. The use of the new search tools has already boosted the efficiency of the European patent grant procedure and paved the way for significant productivity gains, with a view to reducing work backlogs and shortening the time required for granting European patents.

The benefits of the automation programme initiated by Jacques Michel are not confined to the European Patent Office: The EPO's electronic search and documentation systems are used by the national patent offices of the European Patent Organisation's member states and by patent granting authorities elsewhere. The documents stored in the systems are available to the public via the esp@cenet(R) on-line patent information service, which is free of charge.