Stakeholder Quality Assurance Panels present their findings to the SACEPO Working Party on Quality

2 December 2022

On 24 November 2022, the Working Party on Quality of the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO) convened in a virtual meeting that focussed on enhancing the quality dialogue between the patent community and the EPO.

In his opening address, President António Campinos said: “We will achieve our goals when it comes to quality and we will work with our users to make sure that quality is a shared effort and a shared success.”

At the meeting, participants in the recent Stakeholder Quality Assurance Panels (SQAPs) presented and discussed their findings. For the first time ever, these panels brought together EPO experts and European patent attorneys to jointly assess the quality of 36 granted patents.

Completeness, consistency, harmonisation and communication

The SQAP reports will be published as part of the EPO’s upcoming annual Quality Report. They outline user expectations on completeness, consistency of practice and harmonisation during the patent granting process. Panellists also underlined the importance of communication between the examining division and applicants. More specifically, users stressed the importance of well-reasoned objections from examiners, particularly on issues such as clarity and documents cited after the search report has been issued.

During the meeting, SACEPO members and EPO representatives exchanged views and made constructive suggestions on the channels used to support dialogue between users and the EPO, in addition to the SACEPO and the SQAPs. The EPO acknowledged achievements to date that have stemmed from ongoing dialogue with users. They include the development of the EPO’s Patent Quality Charter, improvements to search tools, top-up searches for earlier national rights and the use of artificial intelligence to further advance the harmonisation of practices. SACEPO members appreciated the efforts of the EPO to gather feedback from users and highlighted the importance of transparency in the EPO’s decision-making.

Looking to the future, Steve Rowan, EPO Vice-President for the Patent Granting Process, emphasised the EPO’s commitment to listening to its users and continuing along a common path towards further enhancing quality at the EPO.

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