2 January 2018
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The European Patent Office has completed an internal re-organisation which will enhance the efficiency of its patenting process. The move is also expected to foster the timeliness of the patent granting procedure for users and contribute to higher quality patents and services.
The number of patent applications has risen steadily for some years and has led the EPO to assess whether increasing digitalisation offers opportunities for achieving greater efficiency. Following a study by Boston Consulting Group in 2016, two major changes have now been introduced into the patent granting process. By merging two former Directorates General, the reorganisation integrates support staff (formalities officers) with teams of patent examiners to reduce "hand-over points", where patent applications pass from one operational unit to another. The latest internal changes will also streamline various stages of the patent granting process by bringing them under one line management. In addition, new specialised directorates will deal with opposition procedures, helping to improve both timeliness and coherence of the different decisions taken by the units.
"This reorganisation will help improve services for patent applicants", said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "It's been made possible by the EPO's continual investment in IT and increasing automation in our Office. We're exploiting these opportunities to reorganise our patent granting process and give our users a more efficient system that delivers even higher quality patents and shorter processing times."
The work of a new Directorate General - ‘Patent Granting Process', headed by Vice-President Alberto Casado - has been redefined into three new sectors and reflects changing trends in major areas of patenting activity: mobility & mechatronics; healthcare, biotechnology & chemistry and information & communications technology. Business continuity with high quality will be assured in each sector by one of three new Chief Operating Officers, following their appointment in 2017.
User Support and Quality Management have also been brought together to reinforce the link between the customer, EPO services and quality. As well as managing the EPO's ISO certifications, the unit will ensure that user feedback is fully integrated into the EPO's quality management and future projects of the Office related to the evolution of the patent granting process. This customer feedback will help to improve the EPO's services further and ensure continually higher quality patents for users.