Our staff

Quality is delivered by our highly specialised staff, who take pride in delivering a world-class level of legal certainty to applicants and the public. This is why we hire the best candidates and give them the best training available – throughout their careers.

Recruiting the very best, continuous learning and development

The EPO is an attractive employer. We therefore can, and do, hire the best. In 2022, 77 highly qualified examiners were recruited out of a total of 4 527 external candidates; 64% of them have a PhD and 57% have industry or private-sector experience. In addition to recruiting the best talent, we also have very high levels of staff retention. In 2022, staff turnover was extremely low, at 3.02% (including retirees).

For more information, please see our Social Reports.

Our examiners are experts in their fields who have graduated from the best universities. They hold at least a master’s degree in their technical area and can work in the three official languages of the EPO, namely English, French, and German. New examiners undergo a two-year in-house training programme which includes some 45 days of classroom training and on-the-job training given by dedicated coaches.

Each staff member follows a continuous learning and development programme throughout their career, ensuring up-to-date technical and legal knowledge, as well as expertise in the use of our tools.

The EPO’s staff therefore has excellent technical qualifications and knowledge, as well as the in-depth legal knowledge required to apply the European Patent Convention.

Collaboration, consistency and harmonisation

Our three-person examining and opposition divisions, (Articles 18 & 19 EPC), ensure that three experts are responsible for the decision on each file. These divisions are important drivers of our quality assurance, and also ensure consistency of practice and the sharing of best practices amongst all examiners.

To ensure consistency of approach in cross-cutting technologies, such as computer- implemented inventions, "communities of practice” have been established across technical fields. Other communities of practice help examiners to search for and use Asian prior art more effectively.

Internal education programmes and knowledge-sharing events also support the harmonised application of the EPC. These include lectures dedicated to substantive quality topics and decisions of the Boards of Appeal.

In the patent granting process, examiners and formalities officers work together to ensure that procedures run smoothly, on time, and with a quality of service that is second to none.

For more information, please see the Quality Report 2022.