14 November 2022
The EPO's latest Stakeholder Quality Assurance Panels (SQAPs) marked a major step towards fostering a common understanding of quality. Held on 27 October, the panels brought together thirty participants, including EPO experts and European patent attorneys for the first time. Their in-depth discussions on patents granted led to the first ever joint assessment of their quality.
Each of the six panels covered a different technical field in the EPO’s technology communities: digital technologies, electronics and physics, health and agri-food, infrastructure and mechanics, energy, mobility and space technologies, and materials and production. Panel members assessed a total of 36 patents granted by the EPO.
Exchanges revolved around the extent to which each patent complies with the European Patent Convention (EPC), adaptation of the description, and the amendments proposed by the examining division at grant stage. Panellists highlighted areas where their perceptions of quality were aligned and where opinions differed.
Oana Boncea, European patent attorney, said: “The exchange of views between examiners and patent attorneys at today’s SQAPs was very productive. Life is easier if we listen to each other!”.
“The definition of quality doesn’t end at the doors of the EPO, but goes way beyond. We can only deliver a high-quality product by working together with our users,” added EPO expert Wiebke Hinrichs.
According to Francesco Macchetta, a European patent attorney who has also participated in previous SQAPs: “The regular organisation of SQAPs is essential: frequent interaction between users and EPO examiners is crucial to continuously improving quality.”
The full results of the insightful SQAP panels will be presented at the 9th meeting of the SACEPO Working Party on Quality on 24 November. They will also be published in the EPO’s annual Quality Report due to be released in June 2023.
The EPO is a leader in terms of quality and aims to continuously improve its products and services. User feedback and listening to our applicants play a pivotal role in this process. Launched in 2019, the SQAPs offer users a regular opportunity to share their opinions on the quality of our products in a structured and collaborative setting.
The SQAPs take place within the framework of the Standing Advisory Committee (SACEPO) Working Party on Quality and provide the EPO valuable feedback on user expectations of quality. This knowledge also shaped the EPO’s new Patent Quality Charter, which took effect on 1 October.
Building on the success of the SQAPs held to date, we'll be discussing expanding the concept at the next meeting of the SACEPO Working Party on Quality.