​Intensifying our dialogue with users​

This year, the EPO will hold at least 20 meetings with patent system users, from large industry representatives to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The programme builds upon a successful 2023, in which the EPO held 24 meetings with key applicants from various fields of technology. Such meetings are a crucial part of our user engagement across all IP5 regions and form part of the EPO’s ongoing initiatives to maintain patent quality.  

Objectives and agenda 

Every exchange serves to deepen the dialogue with our users and gain insights into filing strategies, new technologies and applicants’ future plans. The EPO delegations at all meetings comprise experts from the technical fields on which each applicant focuses.

In 2023, nine of the meetings were strategic, focusing on top level developments, and the other fifteen focused on operational topics. The topics covered included the EPO’s approach to artificial intelligence (AI) and computer implemented inventions (CII), as well as the adaptation of the description. The first of these high-level meetings in 2024 was held recently with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft on 1 March.

User feedback

Reliable and valid European patents are essential to our applicants and, during these meetings, they underlined the importance of dialogue between examiners and patent practitioners. Users highly valued the EPO’s quality and timeliness, digitalisation of its online services (e.g. MyEPO portfolio) and the implementation of the Unitary Patent. The representatives also indicated some potential improvements regarding the direct communication with examiners, harmonisation of the examiner work in specific technical fields and the Office’s feedback mechanisms.

The EPO intends to strengthen the dialogue with our users this year and continue gathering feedback to further improve our products and services, according to our applicants’ needs. At the request of some of our key applicants, discussions this year will focus on several topics including initial experiences with the Unitary Patent, the Observatory on Patents and Technology and various aspects of EPO’s Strategic Plan 2028 (SP2028), such as the digital transformation of our online user services.

Listening to users

Stakeholder meetings are one of several means by which we gather feedback. Continuous user dialogue is maintained through regular Standing Advisory Committee (SACEPO) meetings, independent user satisfaction surveys, online public consultations, and our customer service portal. Thanks to valuable input via these channels, the EPO is able to continually improve its products and services, and develop initiatives that meet evolving applicant needs.