The setting up of the EPO represented a major step forward in the history of patents. Its reputation depends on all employees, regardless of nationality, working harmoniously together and giving of their best. But it is on the search, examination and opposition, more than anything else, that the EPO will be judged by the patent world.
Employees of the EPO work with colleagues who not only speak a different language but also come from a different patent background with different training. Some may also have had experience in their national patent office. It is therefore important therefore to remembermention that all employees in the EPO are working under a common system as laid down in the EPC. They should all apply the same standard and in some instances this will mean abandoning previous habits and ways of thought.The Guidelines will support them in applying the same standards.
It is also important that the various departments of the EPO and various staff within the same department should not attempt to duplicate one another's efforts. For example, Examining Divisions should not attempt to check the formalities work performed by the Receiving Section or to duplicate the search work performed by the Search Division. One of the purposes of the Guidelines is also to make clear how where the areas demarcations of responsibility lieare distributed among the different departments, e.g. the Receiving Section, the Examining or Opposition Divisions, in order to harmonise the working processes and to avoid duplicate work.
It should not be forgotten that the reputation of the EPO will depend depends not only on the quality of the work it provides but also on the speed timeliness with which it deals with its workwith which it delivers its work products. The EPC imposes various time limits on the parties. The European patent system will be judged a success only when examiners and other employees also operate withwithin reasonable expeditiontime frames.
Finally, it should hardly need stating that all European applications and patents, regardless of their country of origin and the language in which they are written, should receive equal treatment. An international patent system can be credible only if all trace of national bias is absent.