Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download

EPO_Portrait of an examiner

between the chemistry of cement and the structure of ceramics and glass. But to exam- ine applications relating to polymers I would have to learn a whole lot more." At the EPO there are experts for organic, inorganic and physical chemistry, as well as biochemists. The highly specialised fields also have some- thing in common, Katerina finds: "You’ve got a number of basic elements which are transformed into something completely new by a force or another substance.There’s a touch of magic to it." Born in Greece, Katerina studied chemistry in Thessaloniki and then did a Master of Business Administration in England. She joined the EPO in 1987, initially thinking "I’ll have a go at this for a few years". Now she has been working there for over two decades. "I like getting my mind around the ideas and thought processes of an inventor or an engineer." Applicants have On her way to work, Katerina Theodoridou often stops at building sites and roadworks to watch the big machines going about their noisy business. As a chemist, she is no great fan of diggers and not particularly interested in modern architecture. Instead, her eyes are on the piles of sand and the concrete mixers, the substances and processes which hold the massive tower blocks and bridges together. Katerina knows all about the secret ingredients from her day job: at the EPO she has been working on industrial chemistry for 23 years, and she is an expert on concrete and cement. "It’s fun to watch buildings going up or bridges spanning a river", she says; it gives her a sense of purpose in her work. The EPO employs around 4000 patent exam- iners at sites in The Hague, Munich and Berlin. Over a quarter of them deal with inventions and innovations relating to chemistry. Specialist knowledge of chemical experiments and elements has applications in many differ- ent fields of technology at the EPO. In her early days there, for example, Katerina was dealing with the composition and design of vehicle tyres – "Suddenly I found myself staring at all the synthetic black stuff on cars", she says – and then she moved to one of the industrial chemistry directorates.The patent applications that land on her desk now are about cement mixing methods and new concrete additives. It fascinates her to see "how simple materials like sand or clay properly mixed and combined with certain additives develop quite amazing potential." With her training, Katerina can be deployed in many areas. "Knowledge of chem- istry gives us examiners a degree of flexibility," she says. "For example, there is a lot of overlap ENGLISH 5 Europäisches Patentamt European Patent Office Office européen des brevets