02 September 2013
The end of the summer break is usually a good time to review the first half of the year and see if any trends are already apparent from the facts and figures available. So this could be a good opportunity to update you on our activities, even if some of the data is still provisional.
First of all, it seems that the steady filings growth we have experienced for the last three years is continuing in 2013: our preliminary figures show an increase of 5% over the first half of 2012 (NB: in 2012, the total of filings reached 258 000), mainly from PCT filings. The number of granted patents published is also up, by 11% (41 300).
The main task of a patent office is of course to manage its patent examination process as well as possible, in particular by drawing up high-quality search reports. I believe that the first half of 2013 will be remembered for a number of key steps along the way towards improving the global patent system. Firstly, just a few months after the launch of the Cooperative Patent Classification (on 1 January 2013), this highly refined classification scheme – managed jointly by the EPO and the USPTO – has already been adopted by several other patent offices worldwide, including China’s and Korea’s. That means that four IP5 members are now committed to classify patent literature in the same way. Other national offices will follow soon.
Turning to patent information, the Patent Translate machine translation service we introduced in 2012 – already operational for 21 languages – has added Chinese and Japanese over the last few months, with Korean following shortly. In parallel, we have also enriched our prior-art collection with a great deal of additional data, especially from Asia; it now holds more than 80 million documents.
These three elements – classification, machine translation and prior-art databases – are already integrated into the day-to-day management of our patent process. As a result, I believe that the EPO is currently making great progress in mastering the world’s prior art, especially Asia’s which until recently has been difficult to access.
Implementation of our roadmaps and programmes proceeds apace; we must now ensure that they are brought to a successful conclusion. That is a great encouragement for us to continue our hard work in 2013, and in particular to develop our co-operation with our many different partners around the world, focusing on concrete projects with tangible benefits for users.