2011 was a record year at the EPO. We received almost 250 000 patent filings, the highest number ever in our 34-year history, showing that European patents are in high demand across the globe, and that Europe remains attractive for innovative industries.
At the same time patents have received unprecedented media attention, with mobile phone and other IT companies battling it out over technology rights worldwide. This has put intellectual property ─ and IP offices ─ increasingly in the public spotlight.
At the EPO we continued to make the delivery of high-quality patents our number one priority in 2011. Only solid patents protect the interests of both inventors and the public at large. And only high-quality patents can provide the legal certainty that is so crucial for innovators, whether in protecting their inventions or in steering clear of infringing their competitors' rights.
That is why we were delighted that users once again ranked us as the best patent office in the world in two independent surveys of patent quality in 2011 (IAM/Thomson Reuters Benchmarking Survey and the EU-commissioned PatQual Study).
To maintain and build upon this standing, we redoubled our efforts to improve our procedures, our technical tools and the working environment of our 3 949 examiners, unlocking access to the most vast collection of technical information in the world, working with our partners in Europe and around the globe. This has enabled us to contribute to improving the environment for innovation in Europe, whilst honing our strategy for the future.