Thorough examinations that result in high quality patents

Get it right first time

Applications of higher quality, or those which were amended to reflect the findings of an EPO search report and written opinion, can be processed with fewer interactions.

Bar chart showing the number of communication prior to grant from 2018 to 2022.
Figure: Number of communications required prior to grant 2018-2022 (as at 1.2.2023)

Delivering thorough examinations on time

Timeliness is important to our users - the mean duration of the examination procedure for applications granted in 2022 was 24.3 months.

Timeliness was improved without compromising on quality by deploying a prioritisation scheme and developing new examiner tools.

Line graph showing the median, mean and p95 lines for examination timeliness
Figure: Examination timeliness 

Independent quality audits

Our Directorate Quality Audit (DQA) provides more in-depth insights into the quality of our examination. In 2022, the number of files for which DQA had no findings remained around 76%, with a ±2.9% confidence interval. The target was 85%.

Following questions from external stakeholders about transparency on the findings raised by the DQA auditors, a new bar chart has been designed to show the details requested and demonstrate the thoroughness of quality audits.

The findings are classified according to users' priorities and feedback. The bar charts show that about 15% of files concern findings related to grounds of opposition. Files with only findings concerning clarity and sufficient disclosure are identified separately (5% in 2022).

Bar chart showing the number of files with findings in the 2021 and 2022 audits with the percentage with no findings increasing to 76.6% in 2022
Figure: Grant: quality audit findings 

User satisfaction survey

The user satisfaction survey conducted in 2022/2023 gives a reliable view of how our users rate our substantive examination. Overall satisfaction levels (very good and good ratings combined) stood at 78%. Among other results, "Coverage of independent claims" yielded overall satisfaction levels of 83%. Satisfaction with the timeliness of the examination procedure stands at 63%, showing the EPO needs to continue working to improve in this area.

Figure: User satisfaction survey results for examination services
The results of the 2022/2023 survey have been available since May 2023 and will form the basis for 2023 quality improvement actions.
Arrows indicate statistically significant changes.