Patent applications published by the EPO exceed four million

25 May 2022

Today, the European Publication Server reached a new milestone as the EPO published EP 4 000 000. The application from L'Oréal, one of the top ten French applicants in the 2021 Patent Index, concerns an image recognition method in which artificial intelligence (AI) is trained to recognise skin tone, helping customers match their skin tone to cosmetic products. 

EP 4 000 000 is just one of a growing number of applications involving fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies, a trend observed in several EPO Chief Economist Unit studies. Over the past decade, 4IR innovation such as AI has also spread into domains that are not traditionally regarded as digital, for example, the cosmetics sector. 

Reflect on the past, focus on the future

Based on an Administrative Council decision, the EPO discontinued the paper publication of European patent documents in 2005 and began publishing only online in its official platform, the European Publication Server. Each Wednesday at 14.00 hrs, European documents are published and then cascaded through the EPO's patent knowledge services, either as bulk data, or in online search services such as the European Patent Register, the EP Bulletin search or EP full-text search. Additionally, the EPO publishes worldwide patent data through its online services including Global Index, PATSTAT and Espacenet. Currently, Espacenet holds over 130 million published patent documents and tracks the history of inventions and technical developments since 1782.

The EPO is finalising the implementation of its Strategic Plan (SP2023) in which patent information and patent knowledge feature prominently. Through several projects and co-operation activities, the EPO is enhancing access to patent information and ensuring that its technical records are complete, accurate and effectively managed. This includes the development of new tools and training services to help users understand and exploit patent information.

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