EPO publishes Annual Review 2023

The European Patent Office (EPO) published its Annual Review 2023 today, together with a video and an infographic highlighting the unique set of major milestones achieved over the past 18 months.

The success of the previous year was rooted in continuous dialogue between EPO staff and users, as well as deepened co-operation with member states and partners around the world. This helped us realise the vision clearly set out in the Strategic Plan 2023 (SP2023), benefitting all users, and making our high-quality products and services more accessible, including to underrepresented applicants.

Commenting on this year's review, EPO President António Campinos said: “Together with all our stakeholders, we have progressed towards a more diverse and inclusive patent system that supports inventors everywhere in finding solutions to the urgent challenges that humanity faces. We maintained a leading global standard built on extensive data, cutting-edge tools and the expertise of our highly skilled staff. We also laid robust foundations for SP2028, the evolution of an already successful formula, to guide us towards an even more sustainable Office, patent system and society.”

In 2023, the EPO received a record 199 275 patent applications and our patent examiners carried out a total of 439 838 patent products (searches/written opinions, examinations and oppositions). Our high-quality products and services now reach a quarter of the world’s population.

Continuously improving quality in dialogue with users

Our expert patent examiners, ongoing user dialogue, advanced tools and stringent quality controls ensured that the patent granting process underwent continuous improvement. Not only has the integration of artificial intelligence into our classification and search tools further improved accuracy, consistency and timeliness. We developed MyEPO services throughout the year, making it easier for users to conduct their business and interact with the EPO.

Users could also engage directly with EPO experts and discuss the quality of specific files in the collaborative setting of Stakeholder Quality Assurance Panels (SQAPs), which were revised and expanded. Feedback from these sessions, and our many other user dialogue channels, helped shape the now publicly accessible Quality Action Plan and Quality dashboard, both published for the first time earlier this year.

Improved access, deepened collaboration, more inclusivity

In the year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the European Patent Convention (EPC), the long-anticipated launch of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court completed the European technology market and now offers underrepresented applicants greater accessibility to the patent system. At the same time, new examiners were recruited, and collaboration between our staff and national offices became stronger than ever, including in the area of IT co-operation.

Overall, patent protection can now be sought in up to 45 countries on the basis of a single European patent application, following the entry into force of the Validation Agreement between the EPO and Georgia in January 2024. In 2023, Slovenia became the 17th member state to sign a working agreement on search co-operation with the EPO, providing more SMEs, universities, research centres and individual inventors with the opportunity to benefit from search fee reductions under these agreements. 

Global outreach

The launch of the Observatory on Patents and Technology marked another significant step forward, supported by additional initiatives such as the Deep Tech Finder, our smart search platforms, new studies and a revised fee reduction for micro-entities. Meanwhile, more and more African universities are joining our Knowledge Transfer to Africa initiative, further demonstrating the strength of our global outreach and commitment to inclusive innovation.

These achievements have benefitted many thousands of users, helping the patent system to protect and foster human ingenuity among industry players of all sizes, as well as further support innovators, investors, policymakers and anyone with an interest in sustainable, inclusive innovation.

Commitment to transparency

The Annual Review 2023 is accompanied by detailed annex reports on the key areas of quality, environmental sustainability, international co-operation, social aspects, IT, data protection and the European Patent Academy. In addition to presenting operational results, these reports reflect our commitment to transparency and good governance.