European Patent Organisation

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The European Patent Organisation (sometimes abbreviated EPOrg[1] in order to distinguish it from the European Patent Office, one of the two organs of the organisation[2]) is a public international organisation created in 1977 by its contracting states to grant patents in Europe under the European Patent Convention (EPC) of 1973.[3][4][5] The European Patent Organisation has its seat at Munich, Germany,[6] and has administrative and financial autonomy.[5]

The European Patent Organisation is not legally bound to the European Union (EU) and has several members which are not themselves EU states.[7]

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.

Organs[edit]

EPO headquarters in Munich

The European Patent Organisation has two organs:[8] the European Patent Office, which acts as its executive body,[4][3] and the Administrative Council, which acts as its supervisory body[4] as well as, to a limited extent, its legislative body.[9][3] The actual legislative power to revise the European Patent Convention lies with the Contracting States themselves when meeting at a Conference of the Contracting States.[10]

Besides, the Boards of Appeal, which do not form an independent organ of the Organisation but are integrated within the European Patent Office, are assigned the role of an independent judiciary.[11] The European Patent Organisation is in that sense an international organisation "modelled on a modern state order and based on the separation of powers principle".[11]

European Patent Office[edit]

The European Patent Office (EPO [notes 1]) examines and grants European patents under the European Patent Convention. Its headquarters are located at Munich, Germany with a branch in Rijswijk (a suburb of The Hague, Netherlands), sub-offices in Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria and a "liaison bureau" in Brussels, Belgium. The erection of a new EPO building is planned next to its existing premises in Rijswijk.[12]

Administrative Council[edit]

The Administrative Council is made up of members of the contracting states and is responsible for overseeing the work of the European Patent Office,[4] ratifying the budget and approving the actions of the President of the Office.[3] The Council also amends the Rules of the EPC and some particular provisions of the Articles of the European Patent Convention.[9]

Jesper Kongstad was elected as Chairman of the Administrative Council on June 29, 2010 and took up office on July 1, 2010 for a period of three years,[13] later extended to six years.[14]

Contracting States and extension states[edit]

  contracting states
  extension states

There are, as of June 2012, 38 Contracting States to the EPC, also called member states of the European Patent Organisation:[15] Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, 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). The EPC entered into force in Serbia on October 1, 2010.[16]

In addition there are "extension states" which are not Contracting States to the EPC but have instead signed extension agreements under which the protection conferred by European patent applications and patents is extended to the relevant country.[17] These are Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.[15][18] Slovenia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia were all extension states prior to joining the EPC.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The abbreviation "EPOff" has been also used to refer to the European Patent Office, in order to distinguish it from the European Patent Organisation, see European Patent Office web site, European Patent Convention (EPC), Alphabetical keyword index. Consulted on November 17, 2007.

References[edit]

  1. ^ European Patent Office web site, European Patent Convention (EPC), Alphabetical keyword index. Consulted on June 6, 2010.
  2. ^ Article 4(2)(a) EPC
  3. ^ a b c d Gower's Report on Intellectual Property, para 1.34
  4. ^ a b c d Article 4(3) EPC
  5. ^ a b Article 4(1) EPC
  6. ^ Article 6(1) EPC
  7. ^ R 0001/10 (Offensichtlich unzulässiger Überprüfungsantrag/Ahrweiler), Reasons 2 (Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office February 22, 2011) (“Grund dafür ist, dass das EPÜ nicht Bestandteil der EU-Gesetzgebung ist, sondern mit der europäischen Patentorganisation ein seinem Wesen nach von der Europäischen Union unabhängiges, eigenständiges völkerrechtliches Subjekt begründet, dem zwar allen EU-Mitgliedstaaten, jedoch auch Nicht-EU-Staaten angehören.”).
  8. ^ Article 4(2) EPC
  9. ^ a b Article 33 EPC
  10. ^ Article 172 EPC
  11. ^ a b Opinion G 3/08 of May 12, 2010, Reasons 7.2.1.
  12. ^ "European Patent Office to erect a new building in Rijswijk". European Patent Office. 30 June 2011. Retrieved December 14, 2011. 
  13. ^ European Patent Office website, Jesper Kongstad elected Chairman of Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, News, June 29, 2010. Consulted on June 30, 2010.
  14. ^ "Re-election of the Chair of the Administrative Council". European Patent Office. 26 March 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b EPO member states, retrieved on May 1, 2010
  16. ^ Serbia accedes to the European Patent Convention, July 30, 2010. Consulted on July 31, 2010.
  17. ^ EPO Journal 2004, 619
  18. ^ EPO web site, Extension of European patents to Montenegro (ME), 12 January 2010. Consulted on January 15, 2010.