The QUICK SCAN activity
The QUICK SCAN activity is one of the various accompanying measures offered to the projects selected for the Definition Phase in the framework of the INNOVATION (Technology Validation and Technology Transfer) Projects. The technical and innovative background of the proposals are subjected to a novelty check and compared to the state of the art by the Search Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) at The Hague.
Objectives of QUICK SCAN
To raise awareness for the patent protection system and intellectual property rights (IPR) aspects:
A recent study by the European Patent Office has shown that 2/3 of the European SME’s that generate inventions do not use the patent system at all. In addition, the EU’s share of the total number of patent applications in Europe has clearly declined in the recent years while that of its main competitors Japan and the US has constantly risen.
To raise awareness for the patent information system:
Patents are a valuable source of information and according to expert estimates, 75% of the technical knowledge is exclusively expressed in the patent literature. With its over 120.000 different technical subdivisons it allows for very precise searches.
To avoid duplication of research and wasting of funding resources:
It is estimated that in Europe alone, 25 billion ECU are yearly wasted in the duplication of R&D work because R&D work is not based on known and/or available state of the art expressed in patent or technical databases.
To provide added value for the Commission contractors:
Analysis of search results provide information on market trends, competitive situation and technological trends. The independent documentation of the projects’ novelty via QUICK SCAN may serve as a valuable sales argument, positive input for loan negotiations and deliberations on joint ventures or strategic alliances.
European Patent Office as collaborative partner
The INNOVATION project proposals cover a wide variety of scientific and technical disciplines and come in different languages. The search division of the EPO, with is 1000 multi-lingual examiners and access to the EPIDOS database with more than 30 million documents was chosen as the only partner capable of performing this activity.
First results on QUICK SCAN activity
During the months April and May 1996 , all of the 100 selected proposals for INNOVATION projects have been assessed. Without having geared the proposal forms specifically to QUICK SCAN, a surprisingly high figure of 87% of proposals could be searched by the EPO examiners. 30% were classified as being novel (B1-classification) and in 57% percent of the cases the novelty of the project or parts of it were questioned (B2). The QUICK SCAN activity included an action report by the consortium partners on the results of the EPO search. Depending on the classification, the consortium was asked to outline their specific patenting strategy or discuss in detail all relevant documents questioning the novelty of their project and give further details to explain the innovative approach of their project.
A preliminary statistical analysis showed a strong relation between the search classification of the European Patent Office and the result of the evaluation by external experts: The percentage of not recommended projects were twice as high in the case of B2-classified projects as in the case of novel projects (B1).
In at least two cases, the QUICK SCAN search results have lead to a complete redirection of the project due to prior art not known to the consortium and not available to the experts evaluating the projects for further demonstration stage funding. The requested amount of funding of these two projects alone is a multiple of the costs of the complete QUICK SCAN activity thus showing the economic viability of this approach. In a few other cases QUICK SCAN provided valuable information on possible competitors, pointed towards interesting prior R&D work or possible end-users of a new technology.
For more information on the QUICK SCAN activity contact:
Mr. Manfred Schmiemann
10, rue Robert Stümper
Fax: + 352 4301 32073
Ms. Odilia Knap
Technical Assistance Unit to DGXIII-D1
11, rue de Bitbourg
Fax: + 352 433890