Over the years the EPO has earned a reputation as world leader when it comes to patent quality. Our users have repeatedly given us top marks in independent opinion surveys.
But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We have to secure and even enhance the quality of our products and services.
To be sure, delivering on quality is becoming increasingly challenging. The number of patent filings worldwide is on the rise, putting our services even more in demand. Rapidly growing prior art, especially from Asia, means vast volumes of data to search when considering the patentability of each invention we examine. And technologies are becoming ever more interconnected and complex. We need to adapt and respond to these challenges.
That is why quality is our strategic priority set out in the series of policy roadmaps drawn up in 2010, which the EPO is now implementing in its drive to optimise its structures and procedures. It is essential to securing the relevance of the European patent system.
As part of this policy, in 2014 we achieved ISO 9001 certification of our quality management system in the patent granting process. More recently, the scope of the certification was extended to cover the entire patent process, including patent information and post-grant activities. This will ensure that we have an efficient and transparent framework for continuous improvement, and will help us to strengthen our leadership in patent quality.
Of course we could not achieve our high-quality standards without the competence and commitment of our staff. The EPO is dedicated to supporting them with training and state-of-the-art tools to enable them to perform even better and more efficiently.
We also need to receive regular and objective assessments of our performance. This means listening to our users, gathering their feedback and acting on it. From the very beginning the EPO has taken on board the views of its users and the public at large to ensure that the different interests are considered. This takes many forms, from open consultations to regular user surveys to face-to-face meetings. Our openness is more than ever the key to our success.
Only high-quality patents provide the legal certainty that is so important for innovative businesses seeking protection for their inventions in a highly competitive and globalised market. And only high-quality patents ensure that the European patent system is an efficient and reliable platform to support innovation, economic growth and employment.