I am happy and proud to report that 2015 was another positive year for the EPO.
Firstly, we saw an increase in our applications by 4.8%.
Such a rise – linked to our first priority which is to increase quality – implies that we also increase our production and productivity.
I am proud to say that the EPO achieved a total of almost 365,000 search, examination and opposition products last year, which represents a record 14% increase.
The figure demonstrates that we are able to modernise our production methods and to increase the efficiency of our patent granting process.
At the same time, we have been able to improve our quality, which means that we deliver services and grant patents that are more and more legally robust.
And this is being recognised - Through an independent survey published last year, more users have confirmed that they are highly satisfied with the quality of our products and services.
Furthermore, in addition to our own internal quality targets in 2015, we were also able to achieve ISO 9001 certification for our patent information and post-grant activities, following ISO 9001 certification in 2014 for our patent granting process.
We are proud that the EPO’s is the first of the world’s five largest IP offices to achieve a fully certified end-to-end patent granting and post grant process, from filing to publication.
2015 was therefore a year in which we proved that we are successfully managing to increase production and quality together. Hand in hand.
These remarkable results, which are detailed in this annual report, would not have been possible without taking measures to modernise our office, to adapt it to the competitive environment of the 21st century by implementing reforms.
Let me just give you one example: Since the first of January, 2015, all forms of staff rewards are only based on merit and performance, individual and collective, compared to the former system of automatic seniority.
I would like to also highlight that since 2010, we have been implementing a service orientated and business friendly policy.
That’s why, for example, we have decided not to increase our fees, but to keep them the same, other than adjustments to take account of inflation, knowing that it is low in Europe.
Let me conclude by underlining the growing importance of the EPO in the patent system. Last year, two more countries Morocco and Moldova became states which now accept the European patent as their own national patent. This means that a European patent can now be validated in 42 countries, covering a large market of approximately 650 million people, by the way twice the US market.
2015 was also a decisive year for the unitary patent.
In December we finalised all the necessary preparatory work. Following the adoption of a package of rules in December, the EPO is now legally, technically and operationally ready to deliver this new unitary patent.
Of course we have to wait for the Member states to finalise their ratifications of the treaty of the Unified Patent Court before it can enter into force. We hope that this will take place in 2016.
The EPO has done everything it can to ensure that this could be the year of the first unitary patent.
It is just one of the many exciting prospects that we have ahead of us in 2016, during which we will once again gear our efforts to try and ensure another set of outstanding results on quality and productivity.
"2015 was therefore a year in which we proved that we are successfully managing to increase production and quality together."