The European Patent Office (from now on EPO) has published a strategic plan aimed at highlighting and enhancing its role as one of the world's leading Intellectual Property Offices. This plan, known as Strategic Plan 2023, was unanimously approved on June 26 and identifies five objectives EPO shall guarantee to offer excellence in its actions to stakeholders.
1.To build a committed, well-informed and collaborative organisation
The Office analyses what may be the keys to retain talent and to train and improve its employees. Among other actions, the EPO highlights that it is important to: attract talent - by providing support to workers and their families, implementing plans for young workers and removing barriers in relation to the languages required to work in the EPO; develop talent, with the aim of the employee acquiring the maximum possible skills, and being able to face new responsibilities; encourage professional mobility and work-life balance; develop a modern, sustainable and healthy work environment; improve communication; and promote social dialogue.
2.Simplify and modernise EPO IT systems
The Office recognises that it must invest in a digital transformation that supports its staff, its users and the stakeholders. To prepare this, a unique tool will be implemented to support an end-to-end electronic patenting process. This tool will occupy a central position in a modern digital environment and will provide an integrated approach for the Office throughout the entire process, i.e. from patent filing to possible appeals and post-grant procedures. Among other measures, it will develop a new online user participation tool, implement tools common to other IP Offices to contribute to the European patent network. Furthermore, the EPO will continue to digitize and modernize corporate services, including human resources, finance, general administration and document management, and increase the agility, reliability and security of EPO systems.
3.Deliver high quality products and services efficiently
The Office has proposed a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring the high level of products and services offered by the EPO. Among other things, this include mastering the state of the art by improving and investing in the EPO databases, improving the quality of the services provided, and offering a more flexible patent granting system, which incorporates novelties such as the possibility of offering, within one week, to the applicant (who in an emergency needs an opinion) a search and a written voice from the Office. It will also indicate to the applicant that there is a possibility to offer a pre-application search that provides applicants with an initial assessment of patentability.
4.Building a European patent system with a global impact
Among other measures agreed in the strategic plan, the Office will strengthen cooperation with the national patent offices of the EU Member States and international partners. The EPO will also review the financial and operational support which is provided to national Offices to encourage greater participation, ensure cost-effective and timely implementation and maximise the impact of cooperation activities
5.Ensure long-term sustainability
Finally, the EPO intends to incorporate into the strategic plan a series of measures to ensure and improve the transparency, as well as the financial and environmental sustainability of the Office. To this end, it intends to create an Observatory, which aims to become an inclusive platform that brings together public and private stakeholders from all civil society to review and discuss progress on innovation and patents. Finally, it will also set clear targets for reducing its carbon footprint, energy and paper consumption and eliminating plastics.
The strategic plan - devised in July 2018 and published in its draft in December 2018 - has been developed through the analysis of opinions and data obtained from employees, staff participation surveys, input from employee representatives, an automation process, a financial study, consultations with Member and non-member States, as well as stakeholders who could give their opinion on the project.