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.


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

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 under construction next to its existing premises in Rijswijk.[12]

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,[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 2018, the Chairman of the Administrative Council is Christoph Ernst.[13][14][15]

Legal status

The European Patent Organisation has legal personality,[16] and is represented by the President of the European Patent Office.[17]

Contracting States and extension states

  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:[18] 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 1 October 2010.[19]

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.[20] These are Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.[18][21] Slovenia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia were all extension states prior to joining the EPC.

See also


  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. ^ "European Patent Office to erect a new building in Rijswijk". European Patent Office. 30 June 2011. Archived from the original on 9 January 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  13. ^ Klos, Mathieu; Schulze, Christina (29 June 2017). "Europäisches Patentamt: Deutscher wird neuer Chef des Verwaltungsrats" [European Patent Office: German becomes new head of the Administrative Council]. JUVE (in German). JUVE Verlag für juristische Information GmbH. Retrieved 9 July 2017. 
  14. ^ Krempl, Stefan (30 June 2017). "Europäisches Patentamt: Deutscher löst Dänen an Verwaltungsratsspitze ab" [European Patent Office: German replaces Dane at the head of the Administrative Council]. heise online (in German). Heise Media. Retrieved 9 July 2017. 
  15. ^ "152nd meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (The Hague, 28 and 29 June 2017)". European Patent Office. 10 July 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  16. ^ Article 5(1) EPC
  17. ^ Article 5(3) EPC
  18. ^ a b EPO member states, retrieved on 1 May 2010
  19. ^ Serbia accedes to the European Patent Convention Archived 3 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine., 30 July 2010. Consulted on 31 July 2010.
  20. ^ EPO Journal 2004, 619
  21. ^ 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.

External links