19 June 2018
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The EPO has
today published the second edition of its dedicated Quality Report. Compared
with the 2016 edition, the report provides more extensive information and
details on existing and new measures to deliver high-quality
products and services.
is our number one priority and in 2017 we continued to adapt to make changes and
intensify efforts to maintain our advantage in this area," said EPO President
Benoît Battistelli. "This report allows us to give our users a full
understanding of the actions we're undertaking to provide the highest quality patents."
the EPO set a precedent by publishing its first Quality Report covering 2016. The
user community and other stakeholders welcomed this initiative to increase
transparency. The 2017 report provides the latest detailed information on the
EPO's quality management system and the various initiatives the Office has taken
to improve quality in the course of the last year, including:
IS0 9001 re-certification - In December 2017 the EPO obtained ISO
9001 re-certification for its Quality Management System for the entire patent
process, which was achieved with no instances of non-conformity.
Quality and internal re-organisation - The 2017 edition explains how a
recent internal re-organisation of the Office is contributing to increasing
quality and efficiency. Under the new structure, patent examiners and
formalities officers work side-by-side in the same units, thereby reducing inter-departmental
handover points and enhancing opportunities for quality improvements. New
opposition and central formalities directorates were created, composed of 500
specially selected examiners and dedicated formalities officers. This means
that opposition expertise will be concentrated and, as a result, quality and
harmonisation will be improved.
Improved timeliness - Timeliness is an integral part of the EPO's quality
policy. In 2017, the Office achieved substantial reductions in the time needed
to complete search, examination and opposition procedures. For example in the
area of search, the EPO has already managed to reach (and even surpass) its
goal of establishing a comprehensive search and written opinion within six
months from filing of the application
with the EPO.
The role of Asian prior art - The growing use of Asian prior art
by EPO patent examiners is also highlighted in the report. This is the result
of ongoing measures undertaken such as the use by examiners of Patent
Translate, training efforts, increased use of the Cooperative Patent Classification
globally and improved tools.
Expanded documentation - The EPO's efforts to set up a
comprehensive, complete documentation collection have resulted in over one
billion technical records and 50 million Asian-origin patent documents, thereby
guaranteeing high-quality searches. For example, the EPO has been very active
in recent years in obtaining standards-related documentation, and we now have over
three million standards records in our data collection. These are accessed by
our examiners to provide high-quality search reports from which applicants and
the general public can benefit.
Extended user dialogue - The Quality
Report concludes with a focus on our
intensive dialogue with users and stakeholders, underlining that their feedback
forms an integral part of the EPO's quality management system. Our annual user satisfaction surveys also now involve
some 5 000 interviews with our users. For instance, the most recent
survey results show that between 2015 and 2017, levels of user satisfaction
with patent administration services increased from 80% to 89%.