Our goal: is to provide thorough examination reports and robust decisions which are based on the most relevant prior art and apply the legal provisions in a harmonised and consistent way.
At the EPO, the substantive examination phase follows the search stage. Numerous networks or "Communities of Practice" are available to ensure consistency of approach in cross-cutting technologies such as computer-implemented inventions.
Consistency and thoroughness are also guaranteed by the fact that all final actions must be checked and signed off by a division of three technically qualified examiners; this fundamental enabler of quality and harmonisation is enshrined in the EPC. All oral proceedings in examination also take place before the examining division.
On average, it takes 24.3 months from the beginning of the examination phase to a patent grant and the fact that 22% of granted patents in 2022 had two or more communications from the examining division shows that examiners are thorough in their work.
Our most recent User Satisfaction Survey showed that 85% of respondents rate final actions & publications as “very good” or “good”, with 81% being (very) satisfied with oral proceedings by video conference.
Our statistics and trends in examination are remarkably consistent over the years. See more statistics.