It was mid-May, when Cotance (The Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community), posed the question: can the European Patent Office, a European organization, host advertisement material without checking if it’s exact, fair, and whether it contains defamatory statements? Now, just after a month, Cotance celebrates a victory for leather. Small one, but relevant for its symbolic value. Because, first of all, EPO’s portal “filtered” the presentation of Piñatex, an alternative material patented by Carmen Hijosa. In addition, a victory because it didn’t see the presentation have a good effect on the public during the Inventor Award 2021.
Hijosa was one of the candidates of the SMBs’ section for the 2021 edition of the European Inventor Award, organized by EPO. And Cotance had much to say about how the Spanish start-upper was presenting herself on the agency’s website. Why? Because the content was rather vague of Piñatex’s capabilities, while defamatory statements were made towards leather. Cotance explained its associates that EPO hadn’t formally responded to the former’s messages. Yet, the complaint did have a practical impact: on the day of the ceremony (on June 17th), the start-upper softened her statements, and in her presentation video clarified that, when she talks about “bad tanning”, she is referring to that of emerging countries, while making no claims that her material should “replace leather”.
Moreover, Mrs. Hijosa, points out Cotance, didn’t make wave. While the SMBs’ award went to two scientists that invented foldable solar panels for mobile devices, the popular vote awarded a Serbian researcher that is studying the development of in-vitro textiles for medical use. No worries then, for those that thought the EPO could have become a launching platform for Piñatex.