Access to, and use of, any part of
the website of the European Patent Office (hereinafter "the
Website"), any document, material or other information, including text,
images, sound and software (hereinafter "Information") made available
on the Website and any of the services provided via the Website (hereinafter
"Services") are governed by these terms and conditions of use
(hereinafter "Terms and Conditions") and constitute acceptance of
these Terms and Conditions by the user.
These Terms and Conditions may be
superseded by other terms and conditions applicable to individual services or
parts of the Website, irrespective of whether or not these Terms and Conditions
expressly refer to such other terms and conditions.
The European Patent Organisation
(EPO) reserves the right to amend these Terms and Conditions at any time by
posting amended Terms and Conditions on the Website. Such amendments take
effect on the date on which they are posted. Users are entitled to object to
them within two weeks of posting. Continued use of the Website or its services
constitutes acceptance of the changes concerned. If a user explicitly objects
to any new terms and conditions, the EPO is entitled to revoke his access
1.4. If any provision of these Terms and Conditions is for any reason held to be invalid, illegal or otherwise unenforceable, such unenforceability does not affect any other provision; the Terms and Conditions are then to be construed as if they had never contained the provision(s) in question and are to be interpreted, in so far as possible, in such a way as to maintain their original intent.
The general purpose of the Website is to enhance public access to
information about the EPO and its activities and, in particular, to grant
access to documents held by the European Patent Office in accordance with
applicable legal provisions; it will also offer additional services, such as
facilities for interactive communication with the EPO and/or other users
(subject to the specific provisions in Section 9 and any other additional
terms and conditions of use ) and for web-based transactions (subject to the
specific provisions in Section 10 and any other specific terms and
conditions of use).
2.2. Subject to any legal provision governing access to documents held by the European Patent Office in electronic form, the EPO reserves the right to modify, limit or discontinue - in full or in part and without prior notice - the Services and Information available on the Website at any time, to restrict access to the Website and to deny, without notice and at its sole discretion, any user's access to the Website or any part thereof.
Users of the Website must comply with all applicable laws and
regulations. They must refrain from violating or attempting to violate the
EPO's network security, and, in particular, from uploading or attaching
virus-containing or corrupted files or any software or programs that might
damage the operation of another user's computer. Users must furthermore refrain
from restricting, or attempting to restrict in any way access to or use of the
Website or any Services by other users (for example by generating, whether
manually or in an automated fashion, unusually high numbers of service
The Website is not intended to be a source for bulk downloads of data. Users who wish to download large amounts of data should contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Some of the Services available on this Website require prior
registration. Users must provide correct and complete information when
registering, and update it if necessary. They must not misuse any access
authorisation granted to them (for example by transferring data to unauthorised
third persons). By registering, users agree to being contacted by the EPO by e‑mail.
Registered users are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of
their account and password to prevent unauthorised access to that account.
Users must take all necessary steps to keep their password secure and must
inform the EPO without delay at email@example.com if it is
being or could be used without authorisation.
3.4. In the event of any violation of the above user obligations, the EPO is entitled to revoke the user's access rights without prior notice.
4.1. Unless otherwise stated, the Information is of a general nature only and not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular case, individual or entity. The EPO cannot guarantee that the Information is always comprehensive, complete, accurate and up-to-date. Consequently, the EPO accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from reliance on the Information.
4.2. The Information in no case constitutes professional or legal advice.4.3. Paragraph 1 of this section does not apply to:
Subject to legal provisions exempting official publications from
copyright, all Information published on the Website is protected by copyright
and owned or controlled by the EPO or the party credited as its provider or
author. The EPO reserves all rights to the extent possible under copyright law.
5.2. Without prejudice to paragraph 3 below, users may use the Information obtained directly from the Website without acquiring a copyright or other proprietary rights to it, unless otherwise stated and subject to the following:
No other use of the Information is permitted without prior written authorisation from the EPO.
5.3. As an exception to the above,
The EPO aims at minimising technical errors and malfunctions. However,
some data or other parts of the Information may have been created or structured
in files or formats that are not error-free. The EPO cannot guarantee that the
underlying files and the formats used are error-free and will not cause the
user's systems to malfunction.
In particular, the EPO cannot guarantee that XML data for documents published prior to 1 January 2006 accurately replicates the originals. Unless otherwise stated, only the PDF and SGML versions of such documents are accurate replications or electronic publications of the originals within the meaning of the decisions of the President referred to in Section 4.3 above. The HTML view of XML data is in all cases for users' convenience only, and cannot be guaranteed to reflect accurately the underlying XML data.
6.2. The EPO cannot guarantee that the Website and the Services will always be available. Whilst the EPO is committed to ensuring that the availability of the Website will be essentially uninterrupted and that transmissions will be error-free, this cannot be guaranteed. Access to the Website and its Services may also occasionally be suspended, restricted or impeded to permit repairs, maintenance or the introduction of new services or facilities.
6.3. The EPO accepts no responsibility with regard to such problems (including, but not limited to, failure of performance, computer virus, communication line failure, alteration of content, etc.) encountered as a result of using the Website or any linked external sites.
For some Services and parts of the Website, the EPO offers data security by means of secure socket layer (SSL) technology. A number of Services may be accessed by authorised users by way of a self-defined username and password, while others require identification by means of electronic signature in the form of a smart card issued or recognised by the European Patent Office. The issuance, use and recognition of smart cards are governed by specific terms and conditions of use.
However, the EPO cannot guarantee that data transmitted is absolutely secure at all times from attack by third parties, nor can it guarantee the absolute security of the data transmission process.
Without prejudice to Article 9 of the European Patent Convention, the
EPO shall be liable only for damage
caused by an intentional or grossly negligent breach of duty by its employees,
statutory representatives or auxiliary persons. Where a claim for compensation
for damage against the EPO is based on simple negligence on the part of the EPO
(including the persons listed above), the EPO shall be liable only to the
extent that the claim rests on an injury to life, body or health or is
attributable to a violation of an essential contractual obligation. In the
latter case, if the claimant is an entrepreneur (within the meaning of Section
14 of the German Civil Code), the EPO's liability is limited to typical and
The EPO does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of data and information on the legal status of patents subsequent to their grant originating from other authorities than the EPO; in particular, the EPO does not guarantee that they are complete, up-to-date or fit for specific purposes.
The EPO shall not be liable and accepts no representation or
responsibility for the accuracy, completeness and reliability of information
given in documents bearing the name of their author(s) or otherwise clearly
attributable to a person or third party not directly affiliated to the EPO
(e.g. recorded speeches, postings in Forums as defined in Section 9, or data
relating to the post-grant phase obtained from national patent offices). The
respective author or speaker bears sole responsibility for the content of such
parts of the Information.
Any software made available for download on the Website is supplied
"as is" without further warranties of any kind, either express or
implied, including, but not limited to, the quality, performance,
merchantability or fitness for a particular use or purpose. Without prejudice
to Section 8.1 above, the EPO shall not be liable for any damages, including
but not limited to direct, indirect, special, incidental, punitive, exemplary
or consequential damages arising out of the use or the inability to use such
software, even if the EPO is advised of the possibility of such damages.
Specifically, the EPO is not responsible for any loss of profits or revenue,
loss of the use of the computer program, loss of data, the cost of recovering
programs or data, the substitute program and any claims by third parties caused
by the use of such software.
The EPO shall not be liable and accepts no representation or
responsibility for the functionality or contents of external websites, services
or software products hyperlinked from the Website. The use of such websites,
services or software products is at the sole risk of the user.
8.5. These provisions are not intended to limit the EPO's liability in breach of any national law applicable or to exclude its liability for matters which cannot be excluded under such law.
9.1. Where the Website contains facilities for the online exchange of information or communication with the European Patent Office or other users, be it through bulletin boards, chat rooms, wiki sites, access to mailing lists or other message or document posting facilities (hereinafter collectively "Forums"), the user agrees to use the Forums only to send and receive messages and materials that relate to the Forum's subject and to respect generally accepted standards of politeness and correctness in communications. Forums are for non-commercial use only. In particular, users must not
9.2. By sending messages and material to the Forums, the user accepts full liability vis-à-vis the EPO for any claim made against the EPO in connection with such posting, including, but not limited to, claims for infringement of copyright or other intellectual property rights.
9.3. Unless otherwise stated, the EPO does not screen, edit or approve postings on the Forums. It therefore does not endorse any Forum content, and disclaims all liability as regards such content. However, the EPO reserves the right, at any time and at its sole discretion,
9.4. By uploading content to the Forum or submitting material for use therein, the user grants the EPO a transferable right to use, reproduce or modify such content or material. In exercising that right the EPO must respect the moral rights of the user, including the right to be identified as the author.
11.1 Espacenet is an entry-level, internet-based patent document search service. It provides basic search and retrieval functions for a range of patent and patent-related documents. It is not a replacement for professional services or advice. A zero result from an Espacenet search, for example, should not be interpreted as conferring freedom of action. Commercially relevant or financial decisions should not be based on the results of Espacenet searches.
11.2 Given existing hardware and bandwidth limits, the Espacenet service is not to be used for bulk downloads. Users are requested to respect the "Fair use charter for the EPO's online patent information products"; should they wish to download large amounts of data (for example facsimile page images) they should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
11.3 The European Patent Office makes every effort to prevent technical malfunctions and ensure that the Espacenet service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, from 05:00 to 05:30 CET, Monday to Saturday inclusive and Sunday from 05:00 to 05:45 CET, some parts of the service are closed down for regular maintenance and updates.
11.4 The word "Espacenet" and its logo are EPO trade marks.
11.5. Without prejudice to the European Patent Convention and the secondary law of the EPO, the operation, provision and use of Espacenet services, and any claims or disputes arising out of or in connection with the use of the system, are subject to German law.
12.1 The EPO Online Services portal provides access to personalised online services such as Register Alert, My Files and the Mailbox.
12.2 The portal and the services to which it gives access are free of charge. Some of the services, for example Register Alert, can be accessed by authorised users via a self-defined username and password, while others, such as the Mailbox, require identification by means of an electronic signature in the form of a smart card issued or recognised by the European Patent Office. The following is a list of recognised electronic signatures:
- European Patent Office > http://www.epoline.org
- CERES > http://www.cert.fnmt.es/
- VRK-FINSIGN > http://www.vaestorekisterikeskus.fi/
- WIPO > http://www.wipo.int/pct-safe/en/certificates.htm
12.3 Without prejudice to the European Patent Convention and any particular provisions adopted thereunder for the use of individual services, if a service is not accessed by a registered user for a period of six months the European Patent Office reserves the right to deactivate the user authorisation for that service without prior notice.
12.4 The European Patent Office endeavours to ensure that the portal and its services can be accessed on working days from 08.00 to 18.00 hrs CET. However, it cannot guarantee that they will always be available at these times. If either the portal or any of its services are overloaded or malfunctioning, or if an overload or malfunction is imminent, this may restrict access to the portal or close it down altogether.
12.5 Without prejudice to the European Patent Convention and any particular provisions adopted thereunder for the use of individual services, the operation, provision and use of the services available via the portal, and any claims or disputes arising out of or in connection with the use of the system, are subject to German law.
13.1 The patent translate service generates an automated translation of patent documents. It cannot be guaranteed that such translation output is intelligible, accurate, complete, reliable or fit for specific purposes. Critical decisions, such as commercially relevant or financial decisions, should not be based on machine-translation output.
13.2 The EPO will not collect data on individual users of the patent translate service. Nor will it disclose data on end users to the technical provider of the patent translate service.
14.1. When the Website is accessed, certain information about users, such as internet protocol (IP) addresses, navigation through the site, software used and time spent, may be stored by the EPO or on its behalf. This information may be used for website traffic analysis only, and not to identify users. No attempt will be made to monitor systematically individual users of IP addresses, or the actions that they perform.
14.2. Personal data may not be recorded or saved without the user's express consent. By completing any data collection form on the Website, the user expressly agrees to the storage and processing of the data entered. All data provided by the user (such as, names, addresses, credit card details, account information, etc.) will be treated as confidential, stored and processed only for the purpose for which it was collected, and made available only to the unit responsible for dealing with it. In particular, personal data will not be passed on to third parties or published or made available for general access without the user's express agreement or unless necessary to comply with a request by or for the conclusion or fulfilment of a contract with that user, or unless the EPO is obliged to make such data available to public authorities.
These Terms and Conditions shall be interpreted in such a way as to preserve at all times the EPO's rights under the European Patent Convention and its Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, signed in Munich on 5 October 1973.