European Patent Office (EPO)

The EPC established the European Patent Organisation and also established its executive arm, - the European patent Office (EPO)  located in Munich with a branch in The Hague and sub-offices in Berlin and Vienna.  The EPC also provides for a single European procedure for the grant of patents by the EPO on the basis of a single application and created a uniform body of substantive patent law designed to provide easier, cheaper and stronger protection for inventions in the 38 (as at November 2017) contracting states.

In each contracting state for which it is granted, a European patent gives its proprietor the same rights as would be conferred by a national patent granted in that state. If its subject-matter is a process, protection is extended to products directly obtained by that process. Any infringement of a European patent is dealt with by national law

The EPO carries out searches and substantive examinations on European patent applications and international applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

The standard term of a European patent is twenty years as from the date of filing. Provided that the annual renewal fees are duly paid, patents remain in force for the maximum term.   European patents may also be effective in some countries that have not acceded to the EPC (extension and validation states). At present these are Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro (extension states) and Morocco, and the Republic of Moldova (validation states)

The Office is also responsible for examining oppositions filed against granted European patents

The EPO boards of appeal deal with appeals relating to the granting of and opposition to European patents.  Though integrated in the organisational structure of the EPO, the boards of appeal are independent of the Office in their decisions and are bound only by the European Patent Convention.

More information on European Patents and the European Patent System is available from the EPO’s website at:

EPO Application Guide.pdf (size 2.9 MB)