17 December 2015
At the EPO, we take great pride in administering high quality patents through the provision of equally high quality services. In short, quality is an essential pillar on which the EPO has built its reputation and for which we are renowned. For many years we have been guided by a roadmap and robust policy in this field and it has been a lynchpin of our work.
But with modern challenges, such as rising numbers of patent applications and increasing complexity of inventions, patent offices the world over are faced with the same taxing question: how do you reconcile the need to maintain quality while administering more and more patents in the face of increasing global demand?
Over the last two weeks, recent results have shown that the EPO is successfully addressing that challenge. Last week I chaired the Office’s annual quality review, in order to take stock of the last year. The results were extremely encouraging and I am pleased to report that 2015 has proven to be a record year for quality and productivity. Not only have we exceeded our ambitious production targets but we have also simultaneously achieved outstanding quality results in Patent Administration and exceeded initial expectations.
In addition to these great results, the EPO formally received ISO 9001 certification for post grant activities and patent information. The extended certification now means that post grant activities such as publication, register and post grant fee handling are certified to the same rigorous ISO 9001 standards as the search, examination, and opposition stages of the patent granting process, for which we gained certification last year.
We have no intention to rest on our laurels. Although an external survey has also confirmed the quality of our products and services, our commitment in this area foresees a constant improvement. We have therefore set ambitious quality objectives for 2016 and, given the extension of ISO 9001, we have also included objectives for Patent information for the first time. The targets are ambitious but achievable. The EPO’s staff and management have demonstrated absolute commitment in the pursuit of quality and I am therefore confident that next year’s targets will also be superseded.
The annual quality results, the external survey and the extended ISO 9001 certification send a very clear message to all those who have put faith in our services: while we have managed to increase our efficiency and productivity, we have also remained uncompromising in our commitment to quality. It remains as important as ever for us and for our innovators who rely on these robust patents. We shall never forget that this Office was built upon high quality products and services. It is part of our working culture, it is who we are, and it is something of which we are extremely proud.