European Patent Organisation

From Academic Kids

The European Patent Organisation (EPO or EPOrg in order to distinguish it from the European Patent Office, which is the main organ of the organisation) is a public international organisation set up by the European Patent Convention. The European Patent Organisation has its seat at Munich, Germany.

The European Patent Organisation has the task of granting European patents. Despite what the name suggests, these are not European Community patents or even Europe-wide patents. The European Patent Convention, according to which the European Patent Organisation was established, provides a single patent grant procedure, but not yet a single patent on the point of view of enforcement. After grant, the European patent becomes equivalent to a number ("bundle") of national patents.

The European Patent Organisation is not legally bound to the European Union.

The evolution of the Organisation is inherently linked to the European Patent Convention. See European Patent Convention for the history of the European Patent system as set up by the European Patent Convention and operated by the European Patent Office.



The European Patent Organisation has two organs: the European Patent Office, which can be viewed as its executive body, and the Administrative Council, which can be considered as its legislative body to a limited extent, the actual legislative body for important matters being the Contracting States, when they meet during an intergovernmental Diplomatic Conference.

European Patent Office

The European Patent Office (EPO or EPOff in order to distinguish it from the European Patent Organisation) can be viewed as the executive body of the European Patent Organisation.

The EPO headquarters are located at Munich, Germany. The European Patent Office also includes a branch in Rijswijk (suburb of The Hague, Netherlands), sub-offices in Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria and a "liaison bureau" in Brussels, Belgium. As of 2005, the European Patent Office had a staff of 6000 (among which about 3000 in Munich, 2650 in The Hague, 300 in Berlin and 100 in Vienna).


The European Patent Office is directed by a president. The president also represents the European Patent Organisation. Here is the list of former, current and future presidents of the European Patent Office:


The official languages of the European Patent Office are English, French and German. However, other languages than these three are not all considered on the same footing. Non-admissible languages, such as Japanese or Chinese, should be distinguished from the "admissible non-EPO languages", such as Spanish, Italian, Dutch and any language that is at least an official language in one Contracting State. European patent applications can be validly filed in an admissible non-EPO language provided that a translation is filed thereafter (Art. 14(2) EPC), while they cannot be validly filed in Chinese or Japanese whether a translation is filed thereafter or not.


The EPOff includes a Receiving Section, responsible for the examination on filing and the examination as to formal requirements of European patent applications, search Divisions, responsible for drawing up European search reports, Examining Divisions, responsible for the examination of European patent applications, Opposition Divisions, responsible for the examination of oppositions against any European patent, a Legal Division, Boards of Appeal, responsible for the examination of appeals and an Enlarged Board of Appeal.

The EPOff does not include any court which can take decisions on infringement matter. National jurisdictions are competent for infringement matter regarding European patents.

The European Patent Office and the Patent Cooperation Treaty

The European Patent Office acts mainly as a receiving Office, an International Searching Authority, an International Preliminary Examining Authority and an elected Office in the international procedure according to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The Patent Cooperation Treaty provides an international procedure for dealing with patent applications (but does not grant international patents - which do not exist).

Administrative Council

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation constitutes its legislative body. It supervises the European Patent Office's work, adopts the budget, approves the President's actions and amends the Rules and some particular provisions of the Articles of the European Patent Convention. The Administrative Council is composed of representatives of the Contracting States, and its current chairman is Roland Grossenbacher (Swiss).

Member states and extension states

There are (as of 1 December 2004) 30 member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (see European Patent Convention article for the dates of entry in force in each country). On July 1, 2005, Latvia will become member state, making up a total of 31 member states.

In addition there are six so-called "extension states" which recognise European patents but are not member of the EPO. These are Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Latvia will be an extension state only until June 30, 2005.

Further countries are expected to join the EPO in due course (probably Malta and Norway soon).

See also

External links

de:Europäisches_Patentamt fr:Office européen des brevets nl:Europees Octrooibureau


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