IPExcellence: our working methods
Our working methods are the bricks and mortar of our commitment to excellence. They are collaborative and aligned with customer need, and through continual adjustment, allow us to better serve the businesses and individuals who use our services.
Quality at EUIPO from the viewpoint of an examiner: how quality works in practice
Find out more about the ICE initiative
Interactive Collaborative Examination initiative
The Interactive Collaborative Examination initiative (ICE) involves a specialised group of experienced examiners working together as a team to increase consistency and quality of decisions. There are currently 11 ICE groups in the EUIPO, including absolute grounds, classification and recordals.
Our ten Knowledge Circles – cross-departmental groups of experts with tasks ranging from trade mark and design issues to enforcement and international law – draft our Guidelines as well as providing advice on other issues.
The Knowledge Circle Quality in particular is composed of representatives from different departments in the EUIPO with operational responsibility on quality matters. Part of its remit involves the correct application of the product audit process, the framework and harmonisation of methodology, as well as follow-up and analysis of results and actions taken.
Quality facilitators at EUIPO: their activities
Reference Persons groups
The Reference Persons groups at the EUIPO ensure that the decisions taken by examiners are of good quality and in accordance with Office practice. The groups are also working on a consistent application of the Office practice by providing legal support and training and by developing uniform templates and standard letters.
A network of Quality, Performance and Risk Officers (QPROs) perform the following roles:
- Monitoring, analysis and reporting on the timeliness, stock, output, quality and other performance issues
- Identifying risks in the designated area and suggesting appropriate measures
- Supporting the development of examination and decision taking tools
- Supporting examiners on use of the tools and processes
- In cooperation with the Reference Persons, preparing Work Instructions, and other documents in relation to workflows, procedures and substance
- Closely working with Reference Persons to identify and take appropriate actions in relation to quality
Internal quality checks (IQCs) have been in place in the EUIPO since 2007, combining the ex ante and ex post check process with a unified check taking place prior to the notification of a decision. This allows for decisions to be corrected before they reach the parties concerned. IQCs are carried out on decisions (absolute grounds, opposition, cancellation and RCD invalidity) on a regular basis.
The Internal Control Correspondents Network (ICCN) builds upon the existing quality, performance and risk network, with the objective of helping management in the implementation and oversight of the internal control system throughout the various departments.
Internal audits (Management System)
Internal audits for ISO 9001, ISO 27001 and ISO 10002 are conducted by EUIPO staff. Each internal audit is focused on one Management System, and several of them are conducted throughout the year. They are coordinated by the Corporate Governance Service of the EUIPO and are communicated within the Office through an integrated EUIPO audit plan, which is developed every year and includes all audits performed at the Office. The integrated audit plan approach guarantees that all processes defined in the Integrated Management System will be assessed within a three-year cycle, which is in line with the external audit cycle.
Management System audits, internal and external, are different from audits conducted by the Office’s Internal Audit Services (IAS). Management System audits check conformity against a certain standard voluntarily adhered to by the Office for managerial reasons, in order to periodically ascertain that their requirements are met. The IAS issues independent opinions on the quality of the Office’s management and control systems and recommendations for improving the conditions of implementation of operations and promoting sound financial management, following the responsibilities assigned to the Internal Auditor in the EUTMR (Art. 174) and in the Financial Regulation of the Office (Art. 80).