European Patent Organisation

European Patent Organisation

The European Patent Organisation (EPO or EPOrg in order to distinguish it from the European Patent Office, which is one of the two organs of the organisationEPC Article|4|2|a] ) is a public international organisation created in 1977 to grant patents in Europe under the European Patent Convention (EPC) of 1973. [ Gower's Report on Intellectual Property] , para 1.34] EPC Article|4|3] EPC Article|4|1] The European Patent Organisation has its seat at Munich, Germany, [EPC Article|6|1] and has administrative and financial autonomy.

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

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: [EPC Article|4|2] the European Patent Office, which acts as its executive body, and the Administrative Council, which acts as its legislative body.EPC Article|33]

European Patent Office

The European Patent Office (EPO or EPOffEuropean Patent Office web site, [ "European Patent Convention (EPC), Alphabetical keyword index."] Consulted on November 17, 2007. ] in order to distinguish it from the European Patent Organisation) 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.

Administrative Council

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

The current chairman is Roland Grossenbacher (Swiss). [European Patent Office website, " [ Composition of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation] "]

Contracting States and extension states

There are, as of January 2008, 34 Contracting States to the EPC, also called member states of the European Patent Organisation: [ EPO member states] , retrieved on January 1, 2008] 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, and the United Kingdom (see European Patent Convention article for the dates of entry in force in each country). The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and San Marino [ [ "Report on the 112th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (11 to 14 December 2007)"] , Official Journal EPO 1/2008, page 3. ] have been invited to accede to the EPC.

In addition there are four "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. [EPO Journal 2004, 619] These are Albania, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Slovenia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Croatia were all extension states prior to joining the EPC.


In 2007, around 140,700 applications were filed, which is 3.9% more than in 2006. It is estimated that the total amount of applications will be around 218,219. For comparison, In 2006 the applications were 210,600.

Slightly less than half of the applications in 2007 came from member states of EPO or 48.5%. Around 25% came from the United States, 16% from Japan and 10% from other countries, half of which came from the Republic of Korea and Canada. A small increase has been taking place in the applications from the member states, from 41% in 2006 up to 48,5% in 2007.

There were 54,700 patents granted in 2007 but that is 12.9% less than the year before during which 62,780 patents were granted. The leading applicants were again Philips, Samsung and Siemens.

The average time from filing to grant was 44.3 months, down from 45.3 months in 2005. In 2006, 56 % of the concluded procedures led to the grant of a patent. In 2006, the EPO granted nearly 63000 patents, compared to 53256 in 2005 (+17.9 %). Since its foundation, it has granted 823500 European patents, equivalent to 6.9 million national patents. [ European Patent Office web site, [ Annual report 2007] ]

See also

* Eurasian Patent Organization
* International Patent Institute (IIB), established in 1947 and integrated into the European Patent Organisation on its creation
* Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), dealing with trademarks and industrial designs for the European Union
* Trilateral Patent Offices

"See also "European Patent Organisation" box below."


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