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Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office

Obituary: Leo Ryckeboer

October 11, 2016

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing on 22nd September, 2016 of Leo Ryckeboer, former Vice-President of our Institute.

Ir. Leo Ryckeboer passed away on 22nd September, 2016 in De Haan, Flanders, Belgium, at the age of 77. He leaves a wife, two married sons and two grandsons, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.

Leo was born in Izenberge on 30th December, 1938. He studied at the Catholic University of Leuven, where his obtained the title of Civil Engineer in 1963, specialised in chemical engineering. In 1965, Leo joined the International Patent Institute (IIB, later to be absorbed by the EPO as its DG1) in The Hague as an examiner, where he stayed for six years.

In 1971, he joined NV Bekaert SA, where he was long responsible for Advanced Materials & Advanced Coatings before becoming Head of the IP department. His first years were marked by a patent case that threatened the existence of the steel fibre division. Leo's hard work produced quite some arguments that eventually led to a settlement and allowed the division to continue its operations.
After a 27-year career at Bekaert, Leo retired early and founded his firm in 1999 to become a consultant, concentrating on providing expert opinions and advice. It was only at the age of 75 that he decided to "lay down the hatchet", as he said in Flemish, after spending 50 years in the IP world.

Leo was active in the Royal Flemish Society of Engineers (KVIV), where he founded the IP section. In the framework of KVIV, in 1987 he launched the Basic Course in European Patent Law in Antwerp and attracted high calibre colleagues to build a professional course that contributed to an above average pass rate at the EQE.

In our Institute, Leo served as a Belgian member of Council and the Board for three terms (1993-1999). He is remembered as an always well-prepared and active member whose interventions were right on point. He was proud to have been selected to serve as Vice-President from 1997 to 1999, during the presidency of Arthur Huygens. During his vice-presidency, Leo made an essential contribution to the 1997 epi brochure 'Introduction to Patents in Europe' published in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish and (on the internet only) Finnish. Leo also prepared the position of epi in response to the “Green Paper on the Community patent and the patent system in Europe” issued by the European Commission and presented it at the Hearing in Luxembourg on 25th and 26th November, 1998.
An article to this subject, published in epi Information 2/1998 can be found here:

From 2008 to 2011, Leo accepted the presidency of the Belgian Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, giving it a new impulse after years of stagnation. He was particularly proud of having presided over the association for the celebration of its Centennial in 2009.

Besides IP, Leo took interest in music and was a Board member of the Music Club of the Bekaert Club for seniors.

His family, friends and colleagues will sadly miss him.

Francis Leyder
Board member for Belgium

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