Patent Index 2019

Quality indicators

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Timeliness of patent grant procedure

Up until 2019, the EPO used median averages to indicate the timeliness of search, substantive examination and opposition procedures. From 2020 on, the EPO will use mean averages to indicate the timeliness of these procedures. This gives a more precise measurement of timeliness as it takes outliers into account.
To ensure transparency, historical data on the development of median and mean averages are provided. These illustrate how excessive procedural delays are being progressively eliminated.
An integral part of quality is the provision in good time of searches, examinations, and opposition decisions.

Timeliness 2018 2019
Search timeliness1 All searches (in months) 6.5 5.5
Examination timeliness2 European examination (in months) 31.8 28.1
Duration of opposition
All oppositions (in months) 20.4 18.7
% of international
searches on-time4
96.4% 96.8%
Time to accelerated
examination action5
3.2 2.6
1 Mean value for all searches calculated from date of receipt at the EPO to dispatch of search report.
2 Mean value calculated from valid examination request to dispatch of examiner's intention to grant.
3 Mean value calculated from expiry of opposition filing period to date of opposition decision.
4 Percentage of PCT Chapter 1 international searches completed in time for publication along with the application (A1 publication).
5 Mean time in months calculated from the examination procedure start date to examiner's first communication or decision to grant.

Timeliness of customer services

The EPO has set up Customer Services helpdesk and Customer Relationship Management System to handle users' queries. More information on the EPO's Customer Service Charter.

2018 2019
Timeliness of response
to telephone enquiries
Calls to Customer services answered
within 20 seconds
92% 89%7
Calls to EPO switchboards answered
within 20 seconds
99% 99%7
Resolution of customer
services enquiries6
  90% 90%
6 Within 2 working days calculated in elapsed working hours (2 days = 16hrs).
7 Update on 26 May 2020: The indicators originally published on 12 March 2020 (92% for calls to customer services answered within 20 seconds and 96% for calls to EPO switchboards answered within 20 seconds) have been corrected following an internal review of data. The icons have been adjusted accordingly. From 1 January 2020 the target reaction time has been reduced from 20 seconds to 10 seconds.

Complaints 7

2018 2019
Complaints registered 384 342
% Breakdown by issue  
  Examiner products and services 51% 35%
  Formalities products and services 21% 23%
  Other products and services 28% 42%
% registered online 43% 50%
% complaints replied to within 20 business days8 88% 87%
8 More information on the EPO's complaints procedure.
Source: EPO.
Status: 31.12.2019.

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