Today, patent quality is more important than ever. So not every invention can qualify for a European patent. And the people who take that decision are the EPO's patent examiners.
Patent examiners work at the forefront of technology and deal every day with the latest and most challenging technical innovations.
Watch a short film about the working at the EPO
Science and law
Their daily work combines scientific expertise with analytical research and an eye for the legal aspects of intellectual property.
The main tasks of an examiner are to search and examine patent applications received by the EPO. Patent applications are texts and drawings describing an invention and submitted by individuals or companies seeking legal protection.
The purpose of the search is to find the most relevant previously published technical disclosures ("prior art") against which the patentability of the application can be assessed.
Substantive examination enables the applicant (or authorised representative such as a patent attorney) to be informed of any objections to the grant of a patent, with a view to resolving these through correspondence and, where necessary, oral proceedings.
Examiners may also be involved in opposition proceedings if the patent is contested.