18 March 2016
This week I have the pleasure of writing on a notable achievement in the European Patent Office: we have recently reached 200 million legal status records in our databases. It is another landmark in the EPO’s mission to provide users with accurate and extensive patent information.
The provision of patent information, such as regularly updated legal statuses, is an essential part of bolstering the European economy by supporting businesses and policy makers in their decision making. The legal status database in particular is often used by patent information experts to ascertain whether specific patents are in force. It is also a valuable resource for obtaining further information on paths such as the PCT procedure and the transition of PCT applications into national phase – which allows users to track the territorial coverage of patent applications. Recent additions to our legal status database from China, Japan and Korea have also ensured that the legal status database is truly global in its coverage.
Legal status is just one form of the wide variety of patent information that the EPO provides and that serves both businesses and policy makers. For businesses, reliable patent information can contribute to solid investment decisions and underpin business strategies. For example, the maturity of technologies and trends in innovation can be assessed. Furthermore, candidates for emerging technologies that might become key players in the market can be identified by users such as venture capitalists and promotional banks. For policy makers, IP data can reveal a comprehensive and detailed picture of IP in different countries industries and sectors. It is therefore no surprise that developments in patent information have generated vast interest.
Today, the patent information on which our users can rely covers over 90 countries and forms the back bone of many of the EPO’s services, including Espacenet. As the amount of data grows, our users are also able to perform more complex and comprehensive analyses by using EPO tools. The recently launched PATSTAT online, for example, allows users to perform statistical analyses of the EPO’s vast data collection and to generate an output in visualised form without the installation of complex databases. We have also recently upgraded the Global Patent Index (GPI) to ensure faster searches, navigation and more expansive search results. This month we also welcomed Full Text Searching to our database, Espacenet, in English, French and German and it is anticipated that more member states languages will follow.
These constant updates and improvements, which now include a mobile version of Espacenet, are just a few of the products which form part of a commitment to provide data that is complete, usable, timely and correct. With this in mind, we are also taking initiatives in fora such as the IP5, where we are examining the possibility of providing more information on legal status in the Global dossier – and on which I will report this June from the IP5 Heads meeting in Tokyo.
I invite all those of you who are interested in these developments to read our publication tailored specifically to the latest news in Patent Information and where you can find more details on these subjects.