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European Patent Office offers best quality in the world, says survey

International intellectual property professionals have ranked the European Patent Office first in the world for patent quality for the second consecutive year.

The yearly study compares patent quality in the world’s five largest patent offices. It is carried out by US news conglomerate Thomson Reuters and UK magazine Intellectual Asset Management. This year, the survey questioned 650 patent attorneys and lawyers from the magazine’s readership.

The EPO was ranked first, with 74 per cent of corporate patent attorneys and 62 per cent of private practice lawyers saying that the quality of its patents is excellent or very good.

Joff Wild, editor of Intellectual Asset Management, says: “It is clear that [respondents] believe the EPO currently sets the global standard that other offices should seek to emulate.”

The Japan Patent Office is ranked second, followed by the US Patent and Trademark Office and the Korean IP Office.

The Chinese IP Office is ranked last, with 23 and 13 per cent of positive opinions, respectively. However, about two thirds of respondents say that the quality of Chinese patents has increased from previous years, while two thirds of respondents say it has remained stable at the EPO.

Erin-Michael Gill, managing director and chief IP officer of MDF Capital Group in the US, said in the magazine: “In our experience the perception of patent quality is a function of technology and, to some extent, almost a function of which examiner or art unit reviewed a given portfolio.”

EPO president Benoît Battistelli said that the office’s investments to increase patent quality include streamlining procedures and improving IT systems.

The EPO is an international organisation separate from the EU and based in Munich, Germany. It offers a single procedure to grant patents valid in its 38 member states.