The main task of the European Patent Office is to grant European patents.
The EPO carries out searches and substantive examinations on a steadily rising number of European patent applications and international applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In the case of European patent applications, the Office provides the option of an accelerated search and examination procedure. Read more about the grant procedure in the "Applying for a patent" section of our website.
The Office is also responsible for examining oppositions filed against granted European patents.
The boards of appeal are responsible for deciding on appeals filed against decisions of the receiving, examining and opposition divisions of the EPO. They also consider alleged breaches of the Rules of Professional Conduct for professional representatives before the Office. The boards of appeal are independent, their decisions being governed solely by the provisions of the European Patent Convention. Read more about the boards of appeal .
Disclosure of the invention and subsequent publication are fundamental to the European patent system. The European Publication Server is where the public can obtain official copies of European patent documents. The European Patent Register provides details of the procedural status of patent applications at the EPO.
The EPO's collection of over 70 million patent documents from all over the world is available to the public via the free Espacenet service on the internet. The EPO also provides a wide range of other products for searching patent databases. See the "Searching for patents" section of our website.