Quality and procurement

The EPO continues to enjoy the highest approval rating of any of the big five patent offices included in the survey (the USPTO, JPO, EPO, CNIPA and Korea IP Office (KIPO)). Last year’s study suggested that António Campinos got off to a flying start as president, while this year’s responses suggest that the EPO continues to outperform its peers.

An impressive 88% of respondents at IP-owning companies view the quality of the EPO’s patents as good-to-excellent; 26% as excellent and 38% as very good, while 0% regard its patents as poor in quality and a mere 4% of those surveyed found its quality adequate. This is mirrored by private practice respondents, 90% of whom regard its patent quality as good-to-excellent.

Compare this to the two closest competitors, the USPTO and the JPO. Only 11% of in-house survey takers rated the US office’s patents as excellent, with a further 25% considering its patent quality to be very good and another 35% regarding it as good. Similarly, 10% of corporate respondents find the JPO’s patents to be excellent and a further 29% rate their quality as very good; 30% said that they are good, with only 2% considering its patents poor in quality. These were also the second and third best performing offices for patent quality among respondents from law and attorney firms, although only 28% of these consider USPTO patents to be excellent or very good.

The EPO also outperforms its peers in terms of the level of the service that it provides to users – 55% of those at IP-owning companies rated its service as very good or excellent, compared to 33% for the secondplaced JPO and 27% for the third-placed USPTO.

CNIPA patents are held in lowest regard by those who answered our survey, with only 4% of practitioners at IP-owning companies stating that the office’s patents are excellent and a further 6% considering them very good. A full 40% of corporate professionals rate the CNIPA’s patents as poor or adequate; although, this figure drops to 25% among private practitioners.

But it is not all bad news for the CNIPA, which is regarded is the most improved office for patent quality: 26% of those at IP-owning companies and 25% at law and attorney firms thought that the standard of its patents had improved year on year; 42% and 49% respectively believed that the quality remained the same; only 8% and 5% thought that its patents had worsened.

The message is more mixed for both the EPO and the USPTO. While 14% (IP owning) and 16% (private practice) of respondents believed that EPO patent quality had improved since 2019, and a majority thought that the quality of its rights had been maintained, 17% of corporate respondents and 20% of those at law and attorney firms said that things had got worse. Similarly, 18% of both sets of survey takers believed that USPTO patent quality had declined year on year.

Those at law and attorney firms were split down the middle on whether there is problem with patent quality in general: 51% thought that there is, 49% thought that there is not. Of those who believed that there is a problem, more than half said that pressure to get examinations done more quickly was a contributing factor, with 44% believing that staffing is an issue.

Table 5. Rate the quality of the patents issued by the following agencies (IP owners)

 ExcellentVery goodGoodAdequatePoorN/A
EPO26%38%24%4%0%9%
JPO10%29%30%11%2%19%
KIPO4%19%25%21%4%28%
CNIPA4%6%32%26%14%17%
USPTO11%25%35%17%5%8%

Table 6. Rate the quality of the patents issued by the following agencies (private practice)

 ExcellentVery goodGoodAdequatePoorN/A
EPO22%43%25%4%0%7%
JPO9%44%25%6%0%16%
KIPO3%20%39%13%1%24%
CNIPA3%14%39%22%3%20%
USPTO6%22%39%21%7%5%

Table 7. How do you perceive the quality of the patents issued by the following agencies has changed in the past year? (IP owners)

 ImprovedStayed the sameWorsenedN/A
EPO14%52%17%17%
JPO7%62%4%27%
KIPO5%54%4%38%
CNIPA26%42%8%24%
USPTO17%52%18%13%

Table 8. How do you perceive the quality of the patents issued by these agencies has changed in the past year? (private practice)

 ImprovedStayed the sameWorsenedN/A
EPO16%53%20%11%
JPO13%63%3%22%
KIPO11%63%1%25%
CNIPA25%49%5%21%
USPTO14%56%18%12%

Table 9. Rate the service that you receive from the following agencies (IP owners)

 ExcellentVery goodGoodAdequatePoorN/A
EPO19%36%16%12%1%17%
JPO8%25%22%12%1%32%
KIPO3%18%19%12%3%45%
CNIPA2%13%27%18%11%29%
USPTO6%21%29%20%10%13%

Table 10. Rate the service you receive from the following agencies (private practice)

 ExcellentVery goodGoodAdequatePoorN/A
EPO23%33%26%6%1%12%
JPO8%24%34%5%0%30%
KIPO6%19%31%9%0%35%
CNIPA5%18%31%16%2%29%
USPTO6%22%28%22%5%17%

Table 11. What best describes your clients’ approach to patent procurement? (Please choose up to three options) (private practice)

Answer choicesResponses
They are submitting more applications than they were a year ago25%
They are submitting fewer applications than they were a year ago16%
They are submitting a similar number of applications as a year ago40%
They are focusing more on quality and allocating extra resources so that they can maintain or increase their application rate29%
They are focusing more on quality and submitting fewer applications as a result13%
They are considering focusing more on quality, but have yet to make a final decision13%
If they had to make a choice, they believe that quantity is more important than quality11%
They submit applications with a view to monetisation opportunities further down the line22%
Not sure12%

Figure 20. Do you believe that there is a problem with patent quality in general? (private practice)

fig

Table 12. If you do feel that current patent quality is a problem, what do you consider to be the main contributing factors? (Please tick all that apply) (private practice)

Answer choicesResponses
Pressure to get examinations done more quickly54%
Increase in number of filings25%
Patent office staffing44%
Government regulations14%
Uncertainty around eligibility30%
Other20%

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