12 February 2013
Last week, the EPO had the pleasure of hosting the 20th session of the PCT Meeting of International Authorities (MIA) in Munich. 2013 is a significant year, with the 35th anniversary of the first ever PCT filing and the 40th anniversary of the signing, in 1973, of the European Patent Convention. There have always been strong links between the two patent systems, which were negotiated and adopted in parallel. The PCT was even enshrined in the European Patent Convention.
The PCT, which today has 146 member states across the globe, continues to be praised by users as the best international platform for protecting patents. For the EPO, too, the PCT is a top priority. The EPO established more than 72 000 international search reports in 2012 and is the main provider among International Search Authorities. To ensure that our services continue to meet the expectations of users, especially with regard to quality, efficiency and timeliness, we presented last year a set of concrete proposals for strengthening the PCT system. The MIA, bringing together 20 years of experience in the efforts of PCT authorities to improve the PCT, is a particularly appropriate forum for discussing these suggestions.
In the view of the EPO, emphasis should be placed on the consistency issue in PCT procedures, and on raising the quality of PCT products. We have already submitted a proposal for the development of a PCT metrics framework and the regular publication of quality reports by all ISAs to facilitate the monitoring of progress. I think that the PCT authorities, which have a specific mandate and status, conferred by the Assembly of the PCT Union, have a particular duty to address quality at the highest level. I am sure this work will also support the progress of the discussions on the PCT Roadmap currently being conducted by the PCT Working Group in Geneva.
These efforts at international level complement the EPO’s internal endeavours to improve its PCT products and services in accordance with the high expectations of our users. This aim is especially reflected in the EPO’s IT Roadmap, which identifies PCT support as a main objective.