| || ||1. The EPO Web-Site
The EPO Website (www.european-patent-office.org) has been hosted since May 1995 and is managed by the Webteam in Vienna. The website content continues to grow in volume (currently more than 90 000 pages and some 4 GB of data), audience (some 12 000 distinct users per day) and popularity (some 110 million hits and almost 1 TB of data downloaded in 2005).
A number of "microsites" with specific content and a new homepage were introduced in 2003 to demonstrate the "look-and-feel" planned for the new website. This action was so well received, that there were a total of 25 EPO microsites by the end of 2005, including one for the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (our governing body).
The Internet is a great medium for promoting patent information products and services, enhancing public patent awareness and introducing visitors to the concept of patentability. This should lead to an increase in the number of users of patent information and subsequently the patent system. The range of EPO services accessible via the website also includes esp@cenet® and epoline®, part of the website's evolution from a conventional website to a portal for patent information products and services.
The new website project was slowed while the EPO looked into a consolidated approach to Internet and Intranet activities, as these will be based on a new common platform (hardware and software). This will lead to convergence in the Office‘s various web-based services. A Content Management System (CMS) has been procured in order to facilitate management and maintenance of this increasingly complex site. The new CMS (to be implemented during 2006) will be used for both the external website and the new, office-wide Intranet project which will supersede the current constellation of DGxlines.
In the framework of the training activities on patent information products in Vienna, we will continue to develop distance learning activities taking into account new technologies. By creating a so-called virtual classroom, registered participants can participate interactively via the internet in instructor-lead "live events". Such new services will continue to be accessed via the EPO website and will fully conform with the EPO website design guidelines.
At the same time, we will progressively introduce the use of data in XML format and collaborate with other intellectual property players such as WIPO and the IPR HelpDesk.
2. Publication Services
2.1 European Publication Server
The European Publication Server became operational on 1 January 2005 and - in line with the decision of the President of the Office dated 22 December 2004 - has been the official medium for publication of all kinds of European patent documents since 1 April 2005.
A very simple interface allows users to view and download the documents from the date of publication across a secure connection on the Internet. All the different types of documents (A1/A2/A3/B1/B2 and corresponding correction documents A8/A9/B8/B9) can be accessed via their application numbers, publication numbers, IPC classification symbols and the dates of publication.
Users can download documents published since 1 April 2005 in both PDF and SGML (2005) / XML (2006) formats. Documents published before 1 April 2005 are made available in the best available format(s).
Access to the European Publication Server across the Internet is free of charge at:
The European Publication Server is an up to date way of publishing the increasing number of European patent documents and - by offering the publications free of charge - is an important contribution to the "knowledge-based society" in Europe. By the end of 2005, an average of 700 different users were accessing the European Publication Server every working day.
Developments were continued in the second part of 2005 to take into account the transition to XML (WIPO St. 36) and the introduction of the IPC on 1 January 2006.
Other improvement of the system are planned for 2006, including the uploading of the complete back-file of European patent documents, the introduction of links to the Patentscope system of WIPO for non-republished Euro-PCT documents and the implementation of a web service access.
With effect from 1 April 2005 the publication of European patent documents on paper was terminated.
2.2 ESPACE® Series
Thousands of patent information users around the world continue to enjoy the professional features offered by the ESPACE® series. In combination with the MIMOSA User Software, the ESPACE® products provide a wealth of complex search, display, archiving and document delivery functions that make the contents of the vast databases readily accessible and rapidly retrievable.
For providers of patent information ESPACE® and MIMOSA are a simple, cost-effective way of making large numbers of documents available on a variety of possible platforms, including optical disks and across the Internet, in a manner valued by professional users.
Production of the wide range of existing ESPACE® series, not only by the EPO, continued during 2005. It was joined by a new product at beginning of the year, ESPACE® ACCESS EPC. This new series is an important tool for all users of the European patent system, containing the bibliographic data and English language abstracts of patent publications of almost all EPC member states since 1990.
The following products are currently in production:
ESPACE® EP (previously ESPACE® EPA and EPB)
ESPACE® ACCESS EP-A, ESPACE® ACCESS EP-B
ESPACE® BULLETIN, ESPACE® LEGAL
ESPACE® ACCESS EPC
National series member states
ESPACE® AT, ESPACE® BNL, ESPACE® CH, ESPACE® DK, ESPACE® ES, ESPACE® Fl, ESPACE® GR, ESPACE® IE, ESPACE® IT, ESPACE® MC, ESPACE® PT, ESPACE® SI, ESPACE® UK, ESPACE® PRECES Access, ESPACE® PRECES
National series non member states
ESPACE® ASEANPAT, ESPACE® ID, ESPACE® MY, ESPACE® PH, ESPACE® TH, ESPACE® OAPI, ESPACE® DOPALES
and other series from Australia, Canada, Commonwealth of Independent States, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Russia.
PCT Gazette, US Patent Images and other series.
ESPACE® series are stand-alone products used primarily by external users around the world.
The EPO's Mission Statement calls for it to remain a global leader in the provision of patent information. ESPACE® products and the accompanying MIMOSA Software play a crucial role in this. They enable the Office to disseminate patent information products easily and cheaply to other patent offices, their libraries and to the general public.
Ongoing development of the MIMOSA Software ensures that ESPACE® products around the world remain compatible, thereby supporting their use as documentation exchange media.
2.3 ESPACE® collections online
With the release of MIMOSA User Software version 5 in the middle of 2005, and the transition to GTI v. 5 database structure in MIMOSA Authoring, it is now possible to publish ESPACE® collections online without any additional effort.
The EPO decided to make most of its own ESPACE® products available on-line for a test period during 2006 to gauge user reaction. Existing subscribers can access these ESPACE® collections with the same MIMOSA User Software by means of a secure encrypted https: connection across the Internet. A user registration and administration module and the necessary modifications to the MIMOSA User Software were made available at the end of 2005.
During the test period, the EPO plans to make the ESPACE® ACCESS, ACCESS EP-B, BULLETIN and EP available online.
The EPO will be approaching national offices whose data is on ESPACE® ACCESS EPC, to ask them to confirm their interest in also having this product available online. This would ideally complement the other ACCESS series online.
The two components of MIMOSA provide a software package for content providers to author ESPACE® series and the user software for accessing the ESPACE® series. This ensures compatibility between products worldwide and supports their use in documentation exchange.
In addition to patent information products of the EPO, the MIMOSA software has been successfully used to create compatible intellectual property information products in the framework of EPO co-operation activities in member states (AT, CH, LI, BE, NL, LU, DK, ES, FI, GR, IE, IT, MC, PT, SI, UK, PL, RO, BG, HU) as well as by other patent offices, including Australia, the CIS, Canada, Cuba, Japan, Korea, Russia, Taiwan and the United States. The authoring software is also used by commercial data providers to prepare patent information products, e.g. Bundesdruckerei, Micropatent.
MIMOSA Authoring Software
MIMOSA Authoring Software has become the de facto worldwide standard for the publication of patent information on optical media. In the course of 2005, it was brought up to date by modifying it to handle XML data (according to WIPO St. 36) and the new IPC 8 classification symbols introduced in January 2006.
At present there are two versions of MIMOSA Authoring Software in use:
• version 3.2
(based on GTI v. 3 database structure, running under HP and SUN UNIX)
• version 5
(based on GTI v. 5 database structure, running under MS Windows. UNIX and LINUX versions will added during 2006)
For the production of most national ESPACE® series, the performance and capacity of MIMOSA Authoring Software version 3.2 is still sufficient. It was adapted to handle IPC 8 classification symbols introduced in January 2006. However, it will not be modified to handle XML input; changing the publication format to XML therefore necessitates a move to MIMOSA Authoring Software version 5.
In the future, the EPO will strive to base further developments of MIMOSA software on standard programming concepts like JAVA as far as possible and to increase modularisation which would facilitate the re-use of modules. One of the first benefits has been in the use of GTI v. 5 in the EPTOS (EPOLOC), which allows use of MIMOSA or JViewer as interfaces to access big databases on a mainframe or ESPACE® databases on optical discs, hard discs or across the Internet/Intranet. This means that a single data preparation process can serve as the data resource for different distribution channels, such as ESPACE® online products and a publication server.
MIMOSA User Software
The MIMOSA User Software is distributed free of charge with ESPACE® products, on the ESPACE® Demo Disc and via the MIMOSA website.
The latest version - labelled version 5 - was made available in mid-2005.
It contains a number of enhancements over the previous versions, including the ability to display, print and export XML data according to WIPO St. 36 and to access to GTI V5 databases across the Internet / Intranet. It has also been modified to handle IPC 8. Other improvements enable the MIMOSA User Software to offer completely transparent data-base consultation on a range of media, as well as even bigger databases.
Together with the ESPACE® products, MIMOSA offers essential searching, archiving and document delivery tools. It permits full-text searching in a local environment through a single multi-lingual interface with a very complete range of features, as well as access to databases in an Intranet / LAN or Internet environment.
2.5 MIMOSA Website
The MIMOSA Website was developed to support the users of MIMOSA Authoring Software around the world (the Office is aware of users in Europe, Australia, the USA, Canada, Russia and Korea, among others).
Registered developers can download the latest version of the MIMOSA Authoring Software from the home-page. It also gives them a very practical way to upload configuration files for new ESPACE® series they have created. They then obtain verification from the EPO's contractor, which in turn makes them available for distribution to all MIMOSA users with future official releases of the MIMOSA User Software.
The MIMOSA User Software can also be downloaded from the website, together with the latest updates, including configuration files for new ESPACE® products and software patches. A forum gives an opportunity for direct exchange of information between users. It is regularly checked by EPO experts and the EPO's contractor to ensure that difficult questions raised by users get answered.
Update procedures, content management and the layout have been aligned to procedures being implemented for the EPO website in order to facilitate the transfer of the MIMOSA website to an EPO server. Advantages of the home-page are also to be found in the product registration offered, which enables the EPO to ensure proper version control and maintain a full product inventory.
3. Patent Information Services
esp@cenet® is an entry-level, internet-based patent document search service offered free of charge. It provides basic search and document retrieval functions on a range of patent and patent-related documents.
Use of esp@cenet® version 3 continued to grow, with more than 75,000 individual IP addresses performing an average 1.7 million searches per week. This reflects an increase of 10,000 more users compared to one year earlier.
The database behind the service (EPODOC) was rebuilt at the beginning of the year. The possibility to search in the Patent Abstracts of Japan database was eliminated because abstracts that were previously only available in this database have now been incorporated into the worldwide database, removing the need to offer this additional option. Improved workflow has allowed the uploading of some data on the day of publication, notably EP, DE and GB publications.
Following an extended test phase the possibility to download complete documents from the worldwide database was implemented. Documents available from the BNS, and up to 50 pages in length are available for download in one single PDF file, in addition to the previously available page by page modes (embedded and maximised).
The possibility to search in the worldwide database for documents that have been attributed an ECLA Y classification was introduced. This part of the classification is used in addition to the normal classifications assigned to indicate that the contents of the documents fall in the realm of nanotechnology.
esp@cenet® version 3 was updated to incorporate the new IPC 8. For Level I servers, this involved changing the way that the data is stored and indexed, and a change to the query parsing. These changes enable the application to allow experienced users to selectively search using core and advanced classes related to invention and non-invention information (where available), while still supporting the possibility to perform a single search in any available classification.
In the second half of 2005 esp@cenet® version 2, or "the old version", was finally closed down.
Work continues on the EPTOS integration planned to be released in the first half of 2006. This includes modification of the translation application, handling of local images (including full document delivery if desired), based on either used of the file system or where available, a local jBNS system as well as the launch of a Japanese language esp@cenet® interface.
3.2 Open Patent Services (OPS)
Open Patent Services (OPS) represents a new way of accessing patent information via the Internet. It offers an alternative way to access data offered by the HTML based esp@cenet® service, by providing a web services application offering the same data in XML format.
The following services are currently available from OPS: retrieval of INPADOC extended patent family, legal and bibliographic data, with aggregates of these data types also possible. A number of publicly available clients have been built based on these services, including the EPO's own Register Plus.
The EPO's intention, in extending the OPS services, is:
• to make all the information currently available through the web application esp@cenet® also available via OPS
• to introduce a search functionality to complement the present retrieve-only nature of the service
• to modify the present service to make use of the new WIPO St. 36 XML structures.
Further to these planned features, the introduction of IPC 8 on 1 January 2006 required adaptation work to be carried out in order to allow for delivery of the new IPC symbols on time. A new release of the current OPS system in December 2005 allows the delivery of the complete set of IPC-8 codes, in addition to the earlier versions of the IPC (numbers 1 to 7) and the ECLA.
Developments for the first extension, which will see facsimile images in PDF or TIFF format being offered via the OPS, started at the end of the year 2005. Further developments to offer additional bibliographic fields - including cited references, nanotechnology classification, non-standardised values - and full-text claims and descriptions have taken place already. A broad testing phase for these additional developments is under way and the new environment is expected to go into production by Summer 2006.
3.3 International Patent Document (INPADOC)
The content of the INPADOC databases has been further extended. With the integration of patents from Algeria and the Ukraine, the bibliographic data from 76 patent authorities are now available via esp@cenet®, OPS (Open Patent Services) and numerous commercial providers. In 2005 legal status data from Hong Kong, Slovenia and Slovakia was included so that the Legal Status Database now covers 47 countries.
By switching from manual capturing of legal status data from journals in paper form to electronic data collection from the gazettes on the internet the legal status data from the United Kingdom, Ireland and WIPO is now included on the day of publication. France and Brazil will be treated next.
The IPG newsletter, launched for the first time in 2004, continues to be a success. At the moment, there are more than 300 regular subscribers to this publication from all over the world.
In the second half of 2005 the migration of most of the EPO's raw data products from SGML to XML took place. This was reflected by parallel distribution of both formats via the subscribers' Internet download area. The bibliographic database of the EPO (DOCDB), now under the label "EPO patent information resource" has been made fit for dissemination in XML according to WIPO St. 36 in 2006.
3.4 Document Consultation / Production Service
Over the last few years, the technical concept of the Document Consultation / Production Service has proven its flexibility, reliability, robustness and economic competitiveness for the production of copies of patent documents. Documents can be sent to clients within one hour by e-mail, fax or within 24 hours by normal mail. The concept has become established as standard document production systems in many national offices of member and non member states.
It is also used internally for the production of copies of documents, training material and the like. The infrastructure available also allows for the production of pages and covers in colour.
In summary the resources of the Document Consultation / Production Service can support a variety of different tasks / functions, including:
• regular document production ("Document Delivery on Demand")
• high capacity provision of documents in high quality
• demonstration and training
• DVD network
• support for the new search tool
• production of large copies of documents after use of the MIMOSA User Software
• Global Index Database (library function)
• reference system for support and maintenance purposes
• backlog production on high capacity media.
With the technical evolution of operating systems and other applications within this system, it is becoming necessary to update some parts of the application to new standards. These modifications will be implemented step by step.
4. East Asian Patent Information Services
4.1 "Far East meets West in Vienna"
Over the past years, the EPO has seen a further increase in enquiries about patent information services for East Asia, mainly for Japan, China and Korea. In particular, Japanese patent information has gained in importance through a broad range of English-language services on the Internet. At the same time, other countries in the Far East are also offering more and more services in English language and are gaining in importance for patent searchers. Nevertheless, data from these countries often remains difficult to get. The EPO's role in this field is to provide a European service to help users access patent information from the Far East and interpret this complex data.
Around 100 participants from around the world gathered in Vienna in November 2005 to attend the EPO's fourth annual forum on Far Eastern Patent Information, ("Far East meets West in Vienna"). This was organised by EPO with assistance from the Japan Patent Office and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China and with the support from the Korean Intellectual Property Office. The meeting gave European users of East Asian patent information the opportunity to find out about the latest developments in patent information products and services.
This annual "Far East meets West in Vienna" meeting has developed into a true forum for discussions on Asian patent information, with special support from guest speakers from East Asian countries and experts from the Chinese, the Japanese and the Korean patent office.
For organisational reasons, the next event will be held in April 2007. In September 2006 a special event - more dedicated to user training on East Asian issues - will be held in Vienna, as a smaller alternative to the main conference.
4.2 Cooperation with the Chinese Patent Office
In the framework of the cooperation with the Chinese Patent Office in the field of Patent Information, two experts from the Chinese Patent Office (SIPO) visited the EPO's sub-office in Vienna in January and February 2006. The purpose of this information exchange visit was to support the EPO's installation of a helpdesk for Chinese Patent Information in Vienna and to transfer information and specialised knowledge to the EPO's specialists. This programme will be continued in summer 2006.
In addition to its well known services for Japanese patent information, the EPO's sub-office in Vienna is now already in a position to deliver basic information and helpdesk services on all matters of Chinese patent information. It is planned to enhance these services step by step.
4.3 Korean patent information
The EPO is also planning to enhance its East Asian patent information services in the medium term by establishing a competence centre and helpdesk for Korean patent information issues.
5. Co-operation Activities
The EPO member states continue to be highly interested in activities within the framework of co-operation programmes. Of particular interest during 2005 was the implementation of EPTOS administration services; this led to a prioritisation of co-operation activities in the second half of the year in order to stay within the budget envelope provided for co-operation programmes.
Bilateral co-operation programmes continued, with a number being completed in the course of 2005. New programmes were also approved, with some others being in preparation.
The PATLIB2005 conference was held in Sinaia (Romania) from 17 to 19 May 2005 and was co-organised with the State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM) of Romania.
452 participants from 39 countries (including 27 member states) exchanged experiences in the light of the conference slogan "Focus on your Customers", referring to creating and developing customer orientated patent information services and marketing them after having carefully identified the users' needs marketing. In parallel there was an exhibition with 17 exhibitors and a training programme for students and attorneys and industry. The PATLIB2005 proceedings are available on the Internet or on CD_ROM.
The PATLIB2006 conference will be held in Prague (Czech Republic) from 22 to 24 May 2006. The preparatory work has already commenced.
The PATLIB network currently has 320 members.