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European Patent Office

Here you can find some basic information about the European Patent Office

The European Patent Office was formed in 1977 by the European Patent Convention. The Office is one of the two organs of the European Patent Organisation and acts as the executive body. It is led by EPO President Benoît Battistelli from 2010. The other organ, the Administrative Council has supervisory and some legislative roles, though most of the legislative power is executed by the Contracting States in the form of a conference held periodically.

The European Patent Office grants European patents under a single and uniform application process for the territory of all the 40 contracting states. The basic idea behind creating such an organization was to enable inventors and business entities to patent their inventions more easily and therefore improve the legal environment for matters of intellectual property, as a way of enhancing economic growth in Europe. The term “European patent” is used for those patents granted by the European Patent Office. The Office operates according to the European Patent Convention.

The purpose of the Office is to grant such European patents. As the process is pretty long it involves some specific steps, which can be divided into separate sub-activities. The first of such is conducting patent searches to make sure the invention fulfils the criteria for patentability (it is new, involves an innovative step which is unobvious in the field of use, has industrial application and is a patentable subject matter).

The next important step conducted by the EPO is to examine the patent thoroughly and decide whether the application fulfils the requirements for both formally and substantively.

9 months are provided for third parties to file oppositions against a published European patent. The EPO’s responsibilities involve also the examination of such oppositions.

Appeals can be also filed before the EPO, but they are handled by the independent bodies of the boards of appeal.

An additional important activity of the EPO is to collect the documentation for all European patents and make them available for the public, this way making it possible to conduct patent searches, or just obtaining some relevant information in specific fields of interest.       

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