EPO procedures and initiatives

Procedures and initiatives

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Each patent application is unique, but there are certain principles that search and examination must always follow, and they are the subject of this section.

Inside the mind of an EPO examiner


This article provides an insight into the thinking of EPO examiners during the search process and how examiners balance high quality with service and efficiency.

At the basis for high-quality search and examination lies the consistent and transparent application of the legal concepts and procedures defined by and following the European Patent Convention (EPC). This article addresses the key questions how examiners come to an understanding of the invention and how they dissect the claims and develop search and examination strategies.

Finally, this article illustrates that – like other highly specialized knowledge workers – the job of a patent examiner is highly complex and entails many challenges. Experienced examiners not only apply their technical and legal expertise. They also exercise sound judgment and decision-making skills, work strategically and adopt a strong service orientation.


    • Philippe Lahorte
      Philippe Lahorte

Attitude and process – Key aspects for improving search performance


To achieve the objective of a high quality search within the shortest possible time, the successful search professional needs, next to his technical and tool knowledge, an attitude, focussed on constant introspection, critical thinking, continuous learning and creative problem solving.

A search process is proposed, which lays out the framework for the decisions faced during a search. At the lower level, at the decision points, the behaviour, or attitude, influences the quality and the timeliness of the search. At the higher level, after each search, one takes the adequate decisions to improve in the future, again a matter of attitude.

In essence, it is the appropriate behaviour at the decision points which defines the good attitude of the search professional delivering good results and improving them in the future. With this appropriate attitude one will incidentally also improve the necessary skills and knowledge.


    • Adrian Gex-Collet
      Adrian Gex-Collet

How to interpret EPO search reports


The search report is published together with the patent application and shows which prior art documents are most relevant for the filed application. An EPO search report can be a powerful tool during search, because it gives a quick overview of other documents that are similar and/or related to the relevant patent application. This paper examines the different types of search reports that are issued by the EPO. It explains which information one can extract from these search reports and how this can help in the subsequent examination phase or in a prior art search.


    • Kris Loveniers
      Kris Loveniers

Searching with combination sets in CPC: An efficient way to retrieve relevant documents


Combination sets can be allocated in a limited number of technical areas within the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) scheme. They provide a means of accelerating searches for relevant documents. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the efficiency of using such combinations of individual symbols for classification as well as for search.


    • Patrick K Masson
      Patrick K. Masson

CPC – a continuously improving world


Introduced in 2013, the Cooperative Patent Classification scheme (CPC) has already reached an advanced level of maturity. As with all components of the patent granting and information process, continuous improvement is required to maintain the quality of the scheme. This lecture introduces the latest achievements and plans for the future of the CPC.


    • Frederic Lequeux
      Frédéric Lequeux

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