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The European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the two organs of the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg), the other being the Administrative Council. The EPO acts as executive body for the Organisation while the Administrative Council acts as the Organisation's legislative body.

    * 1 Status and location
    * 2 President
    * 3 Languages
    * 4 Departments and Directorates-General
    * 5 Activities under the Patent Cooperation Treaty
    * 6 Other activities
    * 7 References
    * 8 External links

 Status and location

The European Patent Office (EPO or, sometimes, EPOffin order to distinguish it from the European Patent Organisation) grants European patents for the Member States of the European Patent Convention. The EPO provides a single patent grant procedure, but not yet a single patent from the point of view of enforcement. Hence the patents granted are not European Community patents or even Europe-wide patents, but a bundle of national patents.

The European Patent Office is not a legal entity as such, but an organ of the European Patent Organisation,[which has a legal personality.

The EPO headquarters are located at Munich, Germany. The European Patent Office also includes 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. At the end of 2007, the European Patent Office had a staff of 6499 (with 3514 based in Munich, 2579 in Rijswijk, 283 in Berlin, 119 in Vienna and 4 in Brussels).
Presidents of the European Patent Office
1. Johannes Bob van Benthem (1 November 1977 - 30 April 1985), Dutch.
2. Paul Brändli (1 May 1985 - 31 December 1995), Swiss.
3. Ingo Kober (1 January 1996 - 30 June 2004), German.
4. Alain Pompidou (1 July 2004 - 30 June 2007), French.
5. Alison Brimelow (1 July 2007 - 30 June 2010), British.


The European Patent Office is directed by a president, who is responsible for its activities to the Administrative Council. The president also represents the European Patent Organisation. The president has therefore a dual role: representative of the European Patent Organisation and head of the European Patent Office.

Signage at the Munich office of the European Patent Office, in its three official languages, German, English and French.

The official languages of the European Patent Office are English, French and Germanand publications including the European Patent Bulletin and Official Journal of the European Patent Office are published in all three of those languages.

Patent applications may be filed in any language[provided that a translation into one of the official languages is submitted within two months.The official language that the application is filed in or translated into is taken to be the language of the proceedings and the application is published in that language.Documentary evidence may also be submitted in any language, although the EPO may require a translation.

Several Contracting States to the European Patent Convention have an official language which is not an official language of the EPO, such as Dutch, Italian or Spanish and these languages are referred to as "admissible non-EPO languages". Residents or nationals of such States may submit any documents subject to a time limit in an official language of that State and there is a shorter period of one month for filing a translation into an official language or the document is deemed not to have been filed. Many EPO fees are reduced by 20% for people who file patent application or other documents in an admissible non-EPO language and subsequently file the necessary translation.

[edit] Departments and Directorates-General

The European Patent Office includes the following departments, pursuant to Art. 15 EPC: a Receiving Section, responsible for the examination on filing and the examination as to formal requirements of European patent applications, Examining Divisions, responsible for prior art searches and 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 (see also: Appeal procedure before the European Patent Office). In practice, the above departments of European Patent Office are organized into five "Directorates-General" (DG), each being directed by a Vice-President: DG 1 Operations, DG 2 Operational Support, DG 3 Appeals, DG 4 Administration, and DG 5 Legal/International Affairs.
EPO The Hague branch

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

 Activities under the Patent Cooperation Treaty

The European Patent Office acts as a Receiving Office, an International Searching Authority and an International Preliminary Examining Authority in the international procedure according to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The Patent Cooperation Treaty provides an international procedure for dealing with patent applications, called international applications, during the first 30 months after their first filing in any country. The European Patent Office does not grant international patents - which do not exist. After 30 months an international application must be converted into national or regional patent applications, and then are subject to national/regional grant procedures.
 Other activities

The EPO cooperates with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) as one of the Trilateral Patent Offices.

   1. ^ Article 4(2) EPC
   2. ^ Article 4(3) EPC
   3. ^ a b c Gower's Report on Intellectual Property, para 1.34
   4. ^ Article 33 EPC
   5. ^ European Patent Office web site, European Patent Convention (EPC), Alphabetical keyword index. Consulted on November 17, 2007.
   6. ^ Decision T 1012/03 of December 1, 2006, Reasons 29.
   7. ^ Article 4(2)(a) EPC
   8. ^ Article 5(1) EPC
   9. ^ European Patent Office, Annual Report 2007. Staff and resources, Fig. 2 Analysis of staff in post on 31 Dec. 2007 by place of employment & grade. Consulted on July 8, 2008.
  10. ^ Article 10 EPC
  11. ^ Article 5(3) EPC
  12. ^ Decision T 1012/03 of December 1, 2006, Reasons 35.
  13. ^ Article 14(1) EPC
  14. ^ Article 14(7) EPC
  15. ^ Article 14(2) EPC
  16. ^ Rule 6(1) EPC
  17. ^ Article 14(3) EPC
  18. ^ Article 14(5) EPC
  19. ^ Rule 3(3) EPC
  20. ^ EPO Guidelines for Examination, A, XI-9.2.1
  21. ^ Article 14(4) EPC
  22. ^ Rule 6(2) EPC
  23. ^ Article 14(4) EPC
  24. ^ Rule 6(2) EPC and RFees 14(1)

 External links

    * European Patent Office web site
    * Institute of Professional Representatives before the EPO or "European Patent Institute (epi)"
    * Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO)
    * FFPE-EPO another staff union of the European Patent Office

European Patent Organisation
Founding text    
European Patent Convention (EPC) (revised text: EPC 2000)
European Patent Office (EPO) · Administrative Council
Grant procedure · Opposition · Limitation and revocation · Appeal · Enforcement
Other topics    
epoline · Espacenet · European Patent Bulletin · European Patent Institute (epi) · European Patent Register · EUROTAB · Judges' Symposium · London Agreement · Official Journal · Representation · SACEPO · Software patents
EPC Contracting States    
Austria · Belgium · Bulgaria · Croatia · Cyprus · Czech Republic · Denmark · Estonia · Finland · France · Germany · Greece · Hungary · Iceland · Ireland · Italy · Latvia · Liechtenstein · Lithuania · Luxembourg · Malta · Monaco · Netherlands · Norway · Poland · Portugal · Romania · Slovakia · Slovenia · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland · Turkey · United Kingdom
Extension States    
Albania · Bosnia and Herzegovina · Macedonia · Serbia
European Patent Office
Categories: European Patent Organisation | Patent offices