29 June 2022
The EPO published its Annual Review 2021 today, complemented by a video featuring highlights from the past 18 months. Together, they tell a story of adaptability, resilience and a commitment to building a more sustainable global patent system. Our organisation continued to deliver the latest benefits of its digital transformation to users in 2021. Beyond solid progress with our Strategic Plan 2023, we successfully managed the constantly evolving pandemic while embracing new ways of working.
The Annual Review 2021 is accompanied by detailed annex reports offering insights into key areas such as quality, environmental sustainability, international co-operation, social aspects, IT, data protection and communication. In addition to key operational results, these reports also reflect the central importance of transparency and good governance to the EPO.
Commenting on this year's review, EPO President António Campinos said: "There can be no doubt that the EPO's digital transformation has deepened collaboration -- both within the organisation and with stakeholders worldwide. Coupled with progress in implementing our strategic plan, it has enriched our efforts to continuously improve the quality of our products and services."
The Annual Review 2021 presents the results of a year in which the EPO received a record 188 600 applications, an increase of 4.5% compared to 2020. As innovation regained momentum after the slight decrease in applications in 2020, our patent examiners carried out a total of 363 452 search, examination and opposition products in 2021.
The Office made significant strides in 2021 towards its ultimate goal of securing long-term sustainability. As well as saving resources and reducing emissions, digitalisation has helped raise awareness across the organisation of data-driven insights that support and strengthen our financial independence, contribute to continuously improving our environmental footprint and drive our efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. It has also provided a basis for fostering a new sense of togetherness and for the new ways of working. These aim to offer all staff greater flexibility in organising their work and striking a better work-life balance, while ensuring that the Office continues to deliver products and services of outstanding quality. Taking the digital transformation to users meant preparing the way for the launch of new convenient online tools and building on the success of services that have also increased both the transparency and reach of the patent system, such as oral proceedings in opposition by videoconference.
By the end of 2021, 71% of the Strategic Plan 2023 was complete. At the time of publication, that figure stands at 83%. The progress has largely been possible thanks to the feedback, input and support of our stakeholders. In a rapidly evolving patent landscape, dialogue with users helps to ensure that our products and services continue to meet their needs.