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Achievements 2010 to 2018 published: “Modernising the EPO for excellence and sustainability”

A bridge crossing a river at sunset (cover visual)

11 June 2018

The EPO has today published a summary of achievements resulting from the extensive modernisation reforms put in place between 2010 and 2018. The changes have enabled the Office to be more competitive, more quality oriented, more efficient, more financially secure and ready to face the challenges of tomorrow.  

In 2010, after more than thirty years of existence, the EPO was facing a number of significant challenges, such as a rising number and increasing complexity of patent applications. There was a widely-shared understanding among the different stakeholders that the long-term sustainability of the Office was at stake. Based on a mandate from the EPO's member states, an intense programme was implemented to modernise the institution.

The EPO today – a performant and competitive patent office

One of the widest programmes of reforms experienced by a public agency has delivered a range of benefits to the EPO’s stakeholders.

  • Delivering High Quality Services - The EPO developed ways to provide quicker, easier and simpler access to comprehensive patent information. Patent applicants at the EPO now also benefit from better services that include a timelier patent granting process, reduced fees and patent coverage in up to 44 countries covering a market of some 700 million consumers. User feedback has been gathered through a multitude of channels and has confirmed increasing levels of satisfaction with the EPO's products and services, year after year.
  • A more efficient and competitive public organisation - A focus on our core business has allowed the Office to increase its examination capacity by 10%, while the overall EPO headcount has remained stable. Together with a reorganisation of the patent granting process and investments in IT, this has helped the EPO achieve its best performance to date. Production has increased by 36% and the stock of outstanding work has been reduced by 27% during the last three years. The number of patents granted is also up by +82%. Higher performance and better cost control have also reduced the unit cost and put the EPO in a stronger financial situation.
  • Modernised Working Conditions - The Office has profoundly reviewed its social framework and working conditions, providing more clarity, fairness and sustainability, as illustrated by a new Career and Performance Management system that is now based on performance and merit. The reforms also ensured that EPO staff continue to benefit from regular salary increases and an extensive social package that compares favourably to other international organisations and the private sector. The EPO has also focused on providing state of the art workplaces for its staff, such as its new building in The Hague, which is set to offer nearly 2000 work spaces in an innovative and environmentally friendly office premises.
  • An Influential Global Player - In 2011, the European Patent Network was reengineered to create a stronger and more efficient organisation. At the same time co-operation was enhanced on the global stage and joint projects with the world's largest patent offices (EPO, SIPO, USPTO, KIPO, and JIPO) have avoided duplication of work and facilitated the spread of patent information. Enhanced bilateral co-operation with numerous partners has also helped develop validation agreements and allowed the EPO to offer patent information to its users from around the world. That means 800 million records, containing over 100 million patent documents and stored in over 120 specialised databases.
  • Social Responsibility and Transparency - As a responsible public institution, the EPO has increased the transparency of its activities on key subjects such as social conditions and quality. The annual results and major developments at the EPO are given at an annual press conference and the Office has also invested increasing amounts in activities that raise awareness on the importance of patents for the economy, such as the European Inventor Award and numerous extensive studies.

"Thanks to an ambitious series of reforms, the EPO of today is a vastly different organisation to that which existed in 2010", says EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "This striking story of successful modernisation has enabled the Office to provide higher quality, more timely and competitive services. We are now a more sustainable organisation, better placed to face any future challenges in the international patent system. I would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all staff and managers of the Office for these achievements "

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