28 November 2016 - No comments »
This week I’m reporting back from our most recent Online Services User Day in Monaco. The event last Thursday and Friday saw over 120 attendees come from across Europe to Monaco to obtain the latest information on our online services and learn about the most recent developments at the EPO. This was in fact the second of its kind in 2016, following a similar User Day earlier this year in April at our Hague premises. The high attendance that we witness time and time again shows just how strong the demand is for both the services themselves and the latest information in this field.
Online services are of increasing importance to our users. We exist in a world of service industries that are becoming increasingly digitised – and intellectual property is no exception. Not only are our users entitled to rapidly available services, they should benefit from a series of constant improvements that help to offer easier and smoother access to all those seeking to make their applications online. The Online Services User Days give us the opportunity to talk about the enhancements that we’re making and importantly, to understand where further positive changes can be made.
This year, there was a significant focus on CMS, a system that was launched in 2014 and which offers a user-friendly interface for filing applications. Two years after its launch, it was time to assess how the service has evolved and how it’s delivering the intended advantages. External research has shown that CMS has met with enthusiasm by those using the system. This has also been reflected in an increasing take up, especially over the last year in which the number of active users has nearly doubled. With no software installation necessary – except from the existing smart card software – and a user-friendly interface, it’s an example of how we’re seeking to make life easier for applicants through a rapid, easy filing process.
These improvements to our online services are supported by substantial investment in IT systems. Some are helping to ensure we hold the latest bibliographic data for all our applicants and provide users with comprehensive portfolios, while others support the development of new, simpler and safer filing processes. Further planning is also underway to prepare for developments such as the unitary patent. Just a couple of months ago the EPO completed a successful trial of the online form that will be used by applicants when applying for this new patent. The results confirmed that we are indeed ready for the first applications to arrive.
To hold the Online Services User Days in locations across Europe, we work in close co-operation with our member states. I would like to thank the Monegasque patent office for their help in organising the event and to Monaco’s Finance and Economy Minister, Jean Castellini, for his attendance and support. The EPO has always been fortunate to enjoy excellent relations with Monaco. I am therefore pleased that this co-operation was reinforced with the signing of a new agreement under which the EPO will carry out searches for national patent applications on behalf of the Monegasque patent office from 2017 onwards. We’re delighted that Monegasque companies and inventors will benefit from the EPO’s fast, high-quality search and are pleased to contribute to the further modernisation of intellectual property in Monaco.
I look forward to seeing a great many of our users again at the next such event in 2017, when we will once again be able to assess the latest rounds of improvements to our online services.