​​EPO User Day 2023: Updating users on MyEPO services, Unitary Patent, quality, sustainability and more​

User Day 2023 screenshot

Clockwise from top left: Niclas Morey, Principal Director Customer Journey & Key Account Management, EPO; Emma Ó Donnabháin, Principal Director Quality and Practice Harmonisation; Anne-Mieke Reedijk, Director Ombuds Office, EPO; Gwilym Roberts, UK and European Patent Attorney, Kilburn & Strode; Martin Schweiger, European Patent Attorney, Schweiger & Partners; Vaida Bröcher, Project Director, BERENT. 

A record 10 323 participants from 70 countries attended this year's User Day, which was streamed live on 25 and 26 October across the official channels of the European Patent Office (EPO), including on LinkedIn and YouTube. The 22nd edition connected users worldwide with EPO experts and highlighted the EPO's efforts to make the patent system both more accessible and more sustainable, as more online services are made increasingly available to complement a fully digital customer journey. 

"The more people we can bring around the table, the better we can respond to the needs of all our users, ensuring that we stay not only fit for the present, but also fit for the future," said EPO President António Campinos during his opening speech.  

New features to make EPO online services more user-centric 

Expert speakers from industry, including several SMEs, and the patent profession helped underline the user perspective across the full range of topics. Break-out sessions covered the spectrum of MyEPO services, from MyEPO Portfolio and Online Filing 2.0, which participants indicated via the post-event survey as the topics of the greatest interest overall, to Central Fee Payment and the growing use of the EPO Mailbox.  

Notable new features were demonstrated, such as the ability to interact live with patent examiners on the substantive content of patent applications in the Shared Area and new technical interfaces that enable users to streamline and improve processes, both internally and with the EPO. Further, all users of EPO services were encouraged to use two-factor authentication (2FA) as an alternative to smart cards for signing into online services. The EPO will be publishing information on the latest updates to MyEPO services this week. 

Contributing to the continuous improvement of EPO products and services 

Further programme highlights included lively roundtables on the benefits of the Unitary Patent system, which was successfully launched in June, and on the EPO’s extensive quality mechanisms. Guidance and strategic insights concerning the implications of the Unitary Patent for applicants cast new light on this simpler and more cost-effective option for patent protection, which was shown to have been well-received internationally by innovators ranging from larger corporations to a substantial cohort of SMEs. 

Another in-depth discussion covered the entire range of quality mechanisms, starting with the EPO’s biennial User satisfaction survey, the latest edition of which gathered detailed input from close to 7 000 users. This, together with further insights from well-established entities such as the Quality Working Party of the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO) and more recent initiatives such as the Stakeholder Quality Assurance Panels (SQAPs) throughout the year, makes an indispensable contribution to the continuous improvement of EPO products and services. Meanwhile, the external service launched by the Ombuds office 18 months ago helps get exceptional cases back on track where the regular channels for resolving any difficulties have been exhausted.  

A concluding roundtable introduced the work of the EPO's newly launched Observatory on Patents and Technology, and how it helps enhance access to intellectual property (IP) and technology-related knowledge, with a focus on driving technological advances aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This roundtable featured deep dives into core topics relating to SDG 3 (health and well-being) and SDG 5 (gender equality), along with the EPO's latest patent knowledge tools and platforms, including the Deep Tech Finder. 

More on PCT applications  

Finally, additional sessions reviewed updates on formal and legal requirements of the European patent procedure, as well as updates on Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications at the EPO. Notably, since July 2022, international agents and non-European applicants in the international phase of the PCT have been able to receive all EPO communications online via their EPO Mailbox in cases where the EPO acts as the (Supplementary) International Searching Authority (S/ISA) or International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA).  

You can watch recordings of all EPO User Day sessions and further explore many of the topics covered by using the links below.