CNIPA was formed in the 1950’s, with the British, Dutch, and German Institutes as founding members in response to a wish of those Institutes that there should be some representation for those Institutes that had an effective professional examination and whose member Attorneys were well trained in conducting effective examinations of patent applications before patent Offices. CNIPA held its first meeting in October 57. From those beginnings, CNIPA has now sixteen national Institutes as members. In alphabetical order, the Member Institutes are the national Institutes of AT, BE, CZ, DE, ES, FR, HR, HU, IE, IT, GB, LT, NL, PL, PT, RO and SI. CNIPA is a committee of the member Institutes, represented by their Presidents or their substitutes.
Each member Institute must be a national or regional Institute of Intellectual Property Attorneys to which belong a significant number of that country’s or region’s patent attorneys on a list officially recognised by the national Patent Office or by a corresponding authority such as the European Patent Organisation. The Institute must require future patent attorneys to have a technical qualification such as an engineering or science degree and to pass an effective professional examination in patent law. The member Institutes must all be European.
Fundamentally, the main object of CNIPA is to have close co-operation between the member Institutes, exchanging opinions and (as far as possible) agreeing on matters of interest as well as exchanging information regarding laws and practice throughout the world, in relation to all forms of intellectual property. The current actions are more or less focussed at promoting the right for patent attorneys to represent their clients before the current and future patent Courts in Europe, and to defend the suitable level of harmonisation and regulation for our free professions in the evolving European and worldwide context. CNIPA also has the important function of acting as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and as such making representations to governmental and other bodies on matters of interest to patent attorneys. Thus, as examples, CNIPA is regularly represented at the meetings of WIPO and was represented (and spoke) at the Diplomatic Conference on the amendment of the European Patent Convention which resulted in EPC 2000. It has recently become a representative organisation consulted by the EC DG Internal Market on the current draft for the Community Patent Court. CNIPA is accredited as an official observer of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) and also acts as a channel for distribution of information, mainly from WIPO but also from other bodies.
Currently the board is composed of Chris Mercer (GB) as President, Joan Salva (ES) as Vice-President, and Marc Bethenod (FR) as Treasurer. Rainer Betz (AT) is the immediate past-President. His predecessor was Nanno Lentz (DE).
Meetings of CNIPA occur whenever necessary, but in general every six months. They are attended usually by the Presidents of the member institutes and provide a useful informal gathering for exchanging information as well as debating matters of common interest.