To promote innovation, the patent system needs to provide certainty for both patent proprietors and third parties. That is why quality is so important for the work we do. The EPO has developed numerous internal quality checks and measures, and also takes into consideration various external inputs to enhance patent quality.
The EPO conducts regular surveys of its applicants, seeking their feedback through a variety of channels. The resulting quality indicators are published on our website, keeping the Office transparent and accountable. Bodies representing the applicant community and the patent profession are in regular meetings with EPO managers to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual concern. Their opinions on the quality of our services are expressed frankly and passed back to the departments concerned.
Third parties also do benchmarking work between patent offices, which provides feedback on our services even though users were not responding to us directly. One example is the survey run on a regular basis by IAM Magazine among patent attorneys from around the world. The 2016 edition of this survey shows that the EPO is rated best for quality out of the IP5.
An indirect but still persuasive indicator of user's confidence in our quality is that they keep on returning in ever greater numbers to file patent applications at the EPO (up 3.1% in 2014) . Despite growing competition in the PCT market, the EPO maintains a healthy share of the work (nearly 40% of the requests for international searches, and over 50% for IPERs).