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9 February 2018
Members of the SACEPO Working Party for Quality met for the second time yesterday to discuss quality in patents, this time at the EPO premises in The Hague.
"Over the last few years, demand for patents has increased greatly. 2017 was no exception with a further marked growth in patent applications filed with the EPO," said Alberto Casado, EPO Vice-President for Operations and in charge of the patent granting process, opening the meeting. "While we have kept pace with handling the rising number of applications by increasing productivity, quality takes precedence above all other considerations at the EPO."
The meeting opened with an overview of the EPO's recent structural re-organisation and the positive effect it will have on quality and efficiency. The participants welcomed the merger of the EPO's User Support and Quality Management departments with the objective to reinforce the link between user needs, EPO services and quality. Further presentations covered ongoing quality improvement measures and efforts to improve timeliness.
As the meeting aimed to address users' needs, a large part of the day was devoted to discussing points raised by the working party's external members and following up on the actions resulting from the previous year's discussions. The main topics addressed were: the Early Certainty initiative, the EPO's approach to Quality Management and User Feedback, and advances in the usage of Asian Prior Art.
The participants expressed appreciation for the EPO's commitment to practical engagement with the user community, particularly the in-depth exchanges with EPO legal and operational experts. Participants also congratulated the EPO on its recent ISO 9001:2015 recertification and complimented the Office on its first ever Quality Report.
The Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO) Working Party on Quality was created to engage with users and gather feedback on quality at the Office. It forms part of the EPO's strategy to continuously improve its products, services and communication with users.
The group includes representatives from user associations in all IP5 jurisdictions, as well as delegates from European industry and practice.