The European Patent Office (EPO), the German Patent Office (GPO) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) have published the results of a joint study into the productivity of the three offices.
The study is based on the search and examination of patent applications carried out by all three offices in the period September 2005 Â August 2006. It assessed the legal background and the differing procedures used. Examiners wee also interviewed to assess the validity of a particular approach, assess any potential problems and identify best practice. Any non-examination work or quality related issues were not considered.
The study found that although the substantive law used was virtually identical for all 3 offices there were still differences in the levels of productivity.
The UKIPO was found to come out top, slightly ahead of the GPO in terms of the time take to produce the formal search and examination reports and other communications with applicants. When taken at face value the figures show that the EPO was 50% slower than the other two offices. However it also noted that up to 45% of the difference was due to the differing structures and procedures used in particular the problems experienced by the EPO regarding translation.