18 September 2012
I have already talked about the IP5 partners’ decision, taken at the last Heads’ meeting in Corsica in June this year, to co-operate on setting up the so-called “Global Dossier”. Under its IT roadmap, adopted in June 2011, the EPO is already working to deliver specific and concrete steps to help realise this project. It aims in particular to provide a user-friendly platform for the different kinds of actions and communications which take place with and between patent offices around the world. It is an ambitious project which will make full use of the very latest technology.
In our view, it is also very important that these developments should not only address applicants’ needs but also help patent offices generally to interact more effectively with the public at large. Indeed, we attach great importance to maintaining the right balance between applicants’ and third parties’ interests. That is why, in August 2011, we launched a pilot to test a new web-based service enabling anyone to comment on a European patent application. As part of the EPO’s “Raising the bar” strategy, this service aims to make it easier for third parties to present observations under Article 115 EPC, i.e. information about the patentability of a published application. It is free of charge and available 24 hours a day.
One year on, I am glad to report that the results of the pilot are very positive. Out of a total of 1 366 third-party observations received by the Office, more than 850 (62%) were filed via this new web-based channel. Another direct effect has been a 50% increase, year on year, in the number of such observations. This story says a lot about public expectations nowadays. In addition, it highlights the fact that the technical solutions underlying the development of business-to-business or business-to-consumer interaction apply also to industrial property and the patent offices administering it.
Under its ongoing user-driven re-engineering process, the EPO is committed to making the best possible technology available to ensure easily accessible services. I will continue to update you on developments over the coming months.