EPO again tops patent quality list

28 June 2011

The EPO was ranked first for patent quality among the world's five largest patent offices for the second consecutive year in a survey of corporate and private practice IP professionals conducted jointly by Thomson Reuters and Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) magazine.

The annual benchmarking survey, published in the June issue of the magazine, finds that the EPO leads by a wide margin in terms of perceived patent quality, and has even improved its position over last year.

According to the survey, 74% of in-house counsels thought that the quality of patents granted by the EPO is "excellent or very good" (up from 71% last year), with 62% of the private practice attorneys sharing this view (up from 56% last year). The Japan Patent Office came in second with 57% and 43% respectively, followed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (50% and 37%), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (34% and 24%) and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (23% and 13%).

"The results of this survey are a renewed confirmation of the EPO's efforts to strengthen the quality of European patents for the benefit of society and the economy," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "Quality has always driven the EPO's policy, as only high-quality patents provide the legal certainty that makes them such a valuable tool for companies, individual inventors and third parties alike. The EPO continues to invest heavily in boosting quality, especially by streamlining procedures and improving IT systems. And this study shows that our efforts at establishing a quality-based patent system are paying off."

According to the magazine, the EPO is consistently recognised by users as the world's leading issuing authority when it comes to the quality of the patents it grants. "Those that take part in the survey are senior in-house and private practice professionals who have experience of all the world's leading patent offices, so they should know what they are talking about," said Joff Wild, Editor of IAM magazine. "It is clear that they believe the EPO currently sets the global standard that other offices should seek to emulate."

The survey also finds that the quality of patents granted by the EPO is seen to have improved from previous years: 22% of the in-house attorneys from companies and 26% of their counterparts in private practice agreed with this view, while roughly two thirds of the respondents thought that it had stayed the same, and 7% and 9% respectively answered that the quality had deteriorated.

The survey was carried out among 650 corporate patent attorneys, private practice lawyers and attorneys from the magazine's readership, especially individuals occupying senior positions. It seeks to shed light on the professional environment they are working in, covering a wide range of issues such as corporate awareness of IP issues, portfolio management, performance of leading patent offices, licensing and litigation.

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