14 December 2017
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The EPO has again achieved ISO 9001 certification for the entire patent process, following an audit by an external certifying authority.
The certificate was presented to EPO President Benoît Battistelli by Frank Graichen, Managing Director of the external certification authority DQS, at a ceremony at the EPO headquarters in Munich. The ceremony was attended by the Chairman and the members of the Administrative Council, in their role as representatives of the EPO's member states.
ISO 9001 certification is an internationally recognised standard for quality management systems. The process of certification requires senior management engagement, solid processes and monitoring, as well as staff commitment.
"I am very pleased to receive this recertification only three years after the first certification - and without any instances of non-conformity," said Mr Battistelli. "It recognises the success of our Quality strategy for the benefit of both applicants and the general public."
The Office first achieved ISO 9001 certification in 2014 for the patent grant process and the certification was extended to cover the entire patent process - including patent information and post-grant activities - a year later. For the re-certification process, the requirements were even more challenging following a revision of the standard in 2015.
"The EPO has put a robust quality management system in place and is ensuring that all parts of the patent process follow the defined standards. We found no instances of non-conformity during our audit and are therefore happy to confirm the Office's ISO 9001 certification," said Mr Graichen.
The Office's achievements were outlined earlier this year in the EPO's first ever Quality Report, which explains how the Office implements its quality policy in all its products and services.
The recent annual review of the EPO's quality performance produced very positive results for 2017, as the majority of the key performance indicators for quality were met or even exceeded. Notably, the percentages of users "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the EPO's search (from 81% to 83%) and examination services (from 75% to 76%) have increased. From an already high 87% to 89% of users declaring themselves "satisfied" or "very satisfied", an all-time high was reached in the formalities area. The quality of the EPO's products has remained stable, with 95.1 % compliance for search and 84.7% for examination.
Significant progress was also achieved in timeliness of core products: The EPO now performs searches in just 4.8 months, and the time for examination has been reduced to 22.4 months, while the treatment for opposition has fallen to 23 months. For 2018 the EPO has set itself new and even more ambitious quality targets and put corresponding action plans in place. The full implementation of the new internal structure as of January 2018, too, is expected to yield further increases in quality and efficiency.