07 October 2014
The EPO’s Online User Day held last week in Stockholm, attended by more than 200 participants from 20 European countries, marked the start of the roll out of our new patent grant process. As you know, the EPO’s IT Roadmap has identified ways to radically reengineer our business processes to improve efficiency and quality. This programme has already delivered substantial benefits to our users, like the Mailbox in 2012 or the re-vamped Customer Support Service in 2013.
Another highlight in Sweden was the official launch of our new systems for online filing and web-form filing, with such technical features as: web-based system requiring no software installations; automatic updates; assured security; equal support for EP and PCT (subsequently filed documents are now available for both procedures). As a future development we will create an umbrella access to the latest version of ePCT from WIPO. This, in turn, will allow applicants to track all their dossiers at the EPO whether they choose the EPO as their PCT receiving Office or not.
Moreover a number of new services will be made available under the name “Search for Life”. This will give access to all the information about your portfolio of applications before the EPO. You will be able to see at the click of a button all global citations – for and against – your portfolio, or to do an automatic Search Results Update search prior to entry into the International or Regional Phase provided you have used the EPO as your search authority. You will also be able to have detailed and structured access to the public part of your Global Dossiers at the five major Offices (EPO, USPTO, SIPO, JPO and KIPO). Access to Search for Life will be via the new online services system.
The location of this Online User event in Stockholm seemed particularly appropriate. Indeed, Sweden has been a member of the European Patent Organisation since 1979 and plays a significant role in the European patent system. The inventiveness of Swedes is reflected in the ratio of European patent applications to their population: in 2013, Sweden had the second highest number of EP applications per million inhabitants; and the Swedish company Ericsson was ranked the 10th largest of all global applicants at the EPO.
Following the signature of a comprehensive Bilateral Co-operation Plan in December 2013, the EPO is supporting the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV) in the areas of training, IT services and patent awareness. The PRV has often been at the forefront of the most innovative projects. It was one of the first national patent offices in Europe to adopt the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) in December 2012. This enables Swedish prior art to be found in international databases, indirectly ensuring better protection for Swedish innovations worldwide. At the PRV premises, I had some very interesting exchanges of views with the Swedish user community, focused mainly on the UPP, the patent law harmonisation discussion and the EPO examination process.
Meeting the representatives of the ministries of justice and enterprise was also a good opportunity to congratulate them for the leading role of Sweden in the UPP / UPC preparations and for having ratified the Agreement on the UPC already in June this year. It was also very pleasant to share our common understanding on the on-going reforms and projects of the EPO which I had the chance to present to them.
In the course of 2015, the EPO will continue to deliver, enhance and improve its online services both internally and externally. I hope it will support you efficiently in your daily business and I would welcome your feedback.