Patent Index 2020

Quality indicators

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Timeliness of patent grant procedure

An integral part of quality is the provision in good time of searches, examinations, and opposition decisions.

Timeliness 2019 2020
Search timeliness1 All searches (in months) 4.1 4.3
Examination timeliness2 European examination (in months) 26.1 23.7
Duration of opposition
All oppositions (in months) 17.5 15.4
% of international
searches on-time4
96.8% 98.4%
Time to accelerated
examination action5
2.6 2.5
1 Mean value for standard searches (i.e. excluding non-unity, clarification request or incomplete search).
2 Mean value calculated from valid examination request to dispatch of examiner's intention to grant for standard examination (i.e. excluding two or more late payment of fees, two or more requests for extension of time limit, or re-scheduling of oral proceedings).
3 Mean value calculated from expiry of opposition filing period to date of opposition decision for standard opposition cases (i.e. excluding cases with more than one opponent, participation of a legal member or re-scheduling of oral proceedings).
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.

2019 2020
Timeliness of response
to telephone enquiries
Calls to Customer services answered
within target time (2020: 10 seconds; 2019: 20 seconds)
89% 85%
Calls to EPO switchboards answered
within 20 seconds
99% 98%
Resolution of customer
services enquiries6
  90% 91%
6 Within 2 working days calculated in elapsed working hours (2 days = 16hrs).


2019 2020
Complaints registered 342 374
% Breakdown by issue  
  Examiner products and services 35% 38%
  Formalities products and services 23% 21%
  Other products and services 42% 41%
% registered online 50% 46%
% complaints replied to within 20 business days7 87% 88%
7 More information on the EPO's complaints procedure.
Source: EPO.
Status: 31.12.2020.

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