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 organisation is independent from the European Union, and has as member states all 27 EU member states along with 11 other European states.[7]

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


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 European patent applications and grants European patents under the European Patent Convention. Its headquarters are located at Munich, Germany, with a branch in Rijswijk (near The Hague, Netherlands), sub-offices in Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria, and a "liaison bureau" in Brussels, Belgium.

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]

As of 2019, the Chairman of the Administrative Council is Josef Kratochvíl.[12][13][14]

Legal status[edit]

The European Patent Organisation has legal personality,[15] and is represented by the President of the European Patent Office.[16]

Member states, extension states, and validation states[edit]

  contracting states
  extension states

There are, as of April 2019, 38 Contracting States to the EPC, also called member states of the European Patent Organisation:[17] Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, North Macedonia, 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). That is, all EU member states are also members of the European Patent Organisation, and, additionally, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom are also members of the European Patent Organisation. The most recent member state to join the EPC entered was Serbia which did so on 1 October 2010.[18]

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.[19] These are Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.[17][20] Slovenia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, North Macedonia, Albania and Serbia were all extension states prior to joining the EPC.

Furthermore, there are so-called "validation states" which are not Contracting States to the EPC but have instead signed validation agreements which act similarly to the extension agreements to extend the protection of European patent applications and European Patents. Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia, and Cambodia became validation states on 1 March 2015, 1 November 2015, 1 December 2017, and 1 March 2018, respectively.[21][22][23][24][25][26]

See also[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 17 November 2007.


  1. ^ European Patent Office web site, European Patent Convention (EPC), Alphabetical keyword index. Consulted on 6 June 2010.
  2. ^ Article 4(2)(a) EPC
  3. ^ a b c d Gower's Report on Intellectual Property Archived 19 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine, 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 22 February 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 12 May 2010, Reasons 7.2.1.
  12. ^ "Josef Kratochvíl elected Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation". European Patent Office. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  13. ^ Klos, Mathieu (13 December 2018). "Administrative Council announces new chairman". Juve Patent. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Report on the 157th and 158th meetings of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (10 and 11 October 2018 and 12 and 13 December 2018 respectively)". Official Journal of the European Patent Office. European Patent Office (January 2019): A1. 31 January 2019. ...the Council unanimously elected Josef KRATOCHVÍL (CZ) as its Chairman for a term of 3 years, starting on 1 January 2019.
  15. ^ Article 5(1) EPC
  16. ^ Article 5(3) EPC
  17. ^ a b EPO member states, retrieved on 25 July 2020
  18. ^ Serbia accedes to the European Patent Convention Archived 3 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine, 30 July 2010. Consulted on 31 July 2010.
  19. ^ EPO Journal 2004, 619
  20. ^ EPO web site, Extension of European patents to Montenegro (ME) Archived 15 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine, 12 January 2010. Consulted on 15 January 2010.
  21. ^ "Morocco recognises European patents as national patents". European Patent Office. 19 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Validation agreement with Morocco enters into force". EPO. 1 March 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  23. ^ "European patents to cover Moldova". European Patent Office. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  24. ^ "European patents in Tunisia: Validation agreement between EPO and Tunisia to enter into force on 1 December". European Patent Office. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  25. ^ "Validation of European patents in Cambodia (KH) with effect from 1 March 2018". European Patent Office. 9 February 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Validation states". European Patent Office. Retrieved 6 October 2017.

External links[edit]