The primary task of the European Patent Office (EPO) is to grant European patents, and the EPO enjoys a credible reputation of delivering that task amongst many of the applicants for European patents.
The Guidelines for Examination preface the reputation of the EPO as dependent on quality and the speed with which it deals with its work; and acknowledges that the EPO will be judged by the patent world on the search, examination, and opposition proceedings more than anything else. Indeed, EPO President Benoît Battistelli has voiced “quality, together with efficiency, is the foundation upon which I have built my strategy to ensure the long term prosperity and attractiveness of the EPO”.
Testament to the quality of the European patent system, the EPO has achieved ISO 9001 certification for the quality of its patent granting process, including the operational processes of the search, examination, opposition, limitation and revocation stages. Certification has been the culmination of a series of policy changes executed since 2010 to optimise the EPO structures and procedures.
The certification does however come at a time when the EPO is experiencing an industrial dispute, with the latest figures indicating that 21.4% of the workforce is currently involved (but as much as 36.7% were involved last month) in strike action for reasons which reflect opposition to the reforms implemented in recent years.
ISO 9001 is an internationally recognised standard for quality management systems, which ensures that organisations meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements. Third-party certification bodies provide independent confirmation that organizations meet the requirements of ISO 9001.
We acknowledge the commitment of the EPO to quality, having also developed and maintained our own accredited quality management system complying with the requirements of ISO 9001 in the field of intellectual property law.