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The European Patent Convention

 
 

Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Patent Organisation
(Protocol on Privileges and Immunities)

 

of 5 October 1973 

 

Article 1

(1)
The premises of the Organisation shall be inviolable. 
(2)
The authorities of the States in which the Organisation has its premises shall not enter those premises, except with the consent of the President of the European Patent Office. Such consent shall be assumed in case of fire or other disaster requiring prompt protective action. 
(3)
Service of process at the premises of the Organisation and of any other procedural instruments relating to a cause of action against the Organisation shall not constitute breach of inviolability. 

Article 2

The archives of the Organisation and any documents belonging to or held by it shall be inviolable. 

Article 3

(1)
Within the scope of its official activities the Organisation shall have immunity from jurisdiction and execution, except 
(a)
to the extent that the Organisation shall have expressly waived such immunity in a particular case; 
(b)
in the case of a civil action brought by a third party for damage resulting from an accident caused by a motor vehicle belonging to, or operated on behalf of, the Organisation, or in respect of a motor traffic offence involving such a vehicle; 
(c)
in respect of the enforcement of an arbitration award made under Article 23.
(2)
The property and assets of the Organisation, wherever situated, shall be immune from any form of requisition, confiscation, expropriation and sequestration. 
(3)
The property and assets of the Organisation shall also be immune from any form of administrative or provisional judicial constraint, except in so far as may be temporarily necessary in connection with the prevention of, and investigation into, accidents involving motor vehicles belonging to or operated on behalf of the Organisation. 
(4)
The official activities of the Organisation shall, for the purposes of this Protocol, be such as are strictly necessary for its administrative and technical operation, as set out in the Convention. 

Article 4

(1)
Within the scope of its official activities the Organisation and its property and income shall be exempt from all direct taxes. 
(2)
Where substantial purchases for the exercise of its official activities, and in the price of which taxes or duties are included, are made by the Organisation, appropriate measures shall, whenever possible, be taken by the Contracting States to remit or reimburse to the Organisation the amount of such taxes or duties. 
(3)
No exemption shall be accorded in respect of duties and taxes which are no more than charges for public utility services. 

Article 5

Goods imported or exported by the Organisation for the exercise of its official activities shall be exempt from duties and charges on import or export other than fees or taxes representing services rendered, and from all prohibitions and restrictions on import or export. 

Article 6

No exemption shall be granted under Articles 4 and 5 in respect of goods purchased or imported for the personal benefit of the employees of the European Patent Office.

Article 7

(1)
Goods belonging to the Organisation which have been acquired or imported under Article 4 or Article 5 shall not be sold or given away except in accordance with conditions laid down by the Contracting States which have granted the exemptions.
(2)
The transfer of goods and provision of services between the various buildings of the Organisation shall be exempt from charges or restrictions of any kind; where appropriate, the Contracting States shall take all the necessary measures to remit or reimburse the amount of such charges or to lift such restrictions. 

Article 8

The transmission of publications and other information material by or to the Organisation shall not be restricted in any way. 

Article 9

The Contracting States shall accord the Organisation the currency exemptions which are necessary for the exercise of its official activities. 

Article 10

(1)
With regard to its official communications and the transfer of all its documents, the Organisation shall in each Contracting State enjoy the most favourable treatment accorded by that State to any other international organisation. 
(2)
No censorship shall be applied to official communications of the Organisation by whatever means of communication. 

Article 11

The Contracting States shall take all appropriate measures to facilitate the entry, stay and departure of the employees of the European Patent Office. 

Article 12

(1)
Representatives of Contracting States, alternate Representatives and their advisers or experts, if any, shall enjoy, while attending meetings of the Administrative Council and of any body established by it, and in the course of their journeys to and from the place of meeting, the following privileges and immunities: 
(a)
immunity from arrest or detention and from seizure of their personal luggage, except when found committing, attempting to commit, or just having committed an offence; 
(b)
immunity from jurisdiction, even after the termination of their mission, in respect of acts, including words written and spoken, done by them in the exercise of their functions; this immunity shall not apply, however, in the case of a motor traffic offence committed by one of the persons referred to above, nor in the case of damage caused by a motor vehicle belonging to or driven by such a person; 
(c)
inviolability for all their official papers and documents; 
(d)
the right to use codes and to receive documents or correspondence by special courier or sealed bag; 
(e)
exemption for themselves and their spouses from all measures restricting entry and from aliens' registration formalities; 
(f)
the same facilities in the matter of currency and exchange control as are accorded to the representatives of foreign Governments on temporary official missions. 
(2)
Privileges and immunities are accorded to the persons referred to in paragraph 1, not for their personal advantage but in order to ensure complete independence in the exercise of their functions in connection with the Organisation. Consequently, a Contracting State has the duty to waive the immunity in all cases where, in the opinion of that State, such immunity would impede the course of justice and where it can be waived without prejudicing the purposes for which it was accorded. 

Article 13

(1)
Subject to the provisions of Article 6, the President of the European Patent Office shall enjoy the privileges and immunities accorded to diplomatic agents under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18 April 1961.
(2)
However, immunity from jurisdiction shall not apply in the case of a motor traffic offence committed by the President of the European Patent Office or damage caused by a motor vehicle belonging to or driven by him. 

Article 14

The employees of the European Patent Office: 
(a)
shall, even after their service has terminated, have immunity from jurisdiction in respect of acts, including words written and spoken, done in the exercise of their functions; this immunity shall not apply, however, in the case of a motor traffic offence committed by an employee of the European Patent Office, nor in the case of damage caused by a motor vehicle belonging to or driven by an employee; 
(b)
shall be exempt from all obligations in respect of military service; 
(c)
shall enjoy inviolability for all their official papers and documents; 
(d)
shall enjoy the same facilities as regards exemption from all measures restricting immigration and governing aliens' registration as are normally accorded to staff members of international organisations, as shall members of their families forming part of their household; 
(e)
shall enjoy the same privileges in respect of exchange regulations as are normally accorded to the staff members of international organisations; 
(f)
shall enjoy the same facilities as to repatriation as diplomatic agents in time of international crises, as shall the members of their families forming part of their household; 
(g)
shall have the right to import duty-free their furniture and personal effects at the time of first taking up their post in the State concerned and the right on the termination of their functions in that State to export free of duty their furniture and personal effects, subject to the conditions considered necessary by the Government of the State in whose territory the right is exercised and with the exception of property acquired in that State which is subject to an export prohibition therein. 

Article 15[ 1 ]

Experts performing functions on behalf of, or carrying out missions for, the Organisation shall enjoy the following privileges and immunities, to the extent that they are necessary for the carrying out of their functions, including during journeys made in carrying out their functions and in the course of such missions: 
(a)
immunity from jurisdiction in respect of acts done by them in the exercise of their functions, including words written or spoken, except in the case of a motor traffic offence committed by an expert or in the case of damage caused by a motor vehicle belonging to or driven by him; experts shall continue to enjoy this immunity after they have ceased to be employed by the Organisation; 
(b)
inviolability for all their official papers and documents; 
(c)
the exchange facilities necessary for the transfer of their remuneration. 

Article 16

(1)
The persons referred to in Articles 13 and 14 shall be subject to a tax for the benefit of the Organisation on salaries and emoluments paid by the Organisation, subject to the conditions and rules laid down by the Administrative Council within a period of one year from the date of the entry into force of the Convention. From the date on which this tax is applied, such salaries and emoluments shall be exempt from national income tax. The Contracting States may, however, take into account the salaries and emoluments thus exempt when assessing the amount of tax to be applied to income from other sources.
(2)
Paragraph 1 shall not apply to pensions and annuities paid by the Organisation to the former employees of the European Patent Office. 

Article 17[ 2 ]

The Administrative Council shall decide the categories of employees to whom the provisions of Article 14, in whole or in part, and Article 16 shall apply and the categories of experts to whom the provisions of Article 15 shall apply. The names, titles and addresses of the employees and experts included in such categories shall be communicated from time to time to the Contracting States.

Article 18

In the event of the Organisation establishing its own social security scheme, the Organisation and the employees of the European Patent Office shall be exempt from all compulsory contributions to national social security schemes, subject to the agreements made with the Contracting States in accordance with the provisions of Article 25.

Article 19

(1)
The privileges and immunities provided for in this Protocol are not designed to give to employees of the European Patent Office or experts performing functions for or on behalf of the Organisation personal advantage. They are provided solely to ensure, in all circumstances, the unimpeded functioning of the Organisation and the complete independence of the persons to whom they are accorded. 
(2)
The President of the European Patent Office has the duty to waive immunity where he considers that such immunity prevents the normal course of justice and that it is possible to dispense with such immunity without prejudicing the interests of the Organisation. The Administrative Council may waive immunity of the President for the same reasons. 

Article 20

(1)
The Organisation shall co-operate at all times with the competent authorities of the Contracting States in order to facilitate the proper administration of justice, to ensure the observance of police regulations and regulations concerning public health, labour inspection or other similar national legislation, and to prevent any abuse of the privileges, immunities and facilities provided for in this Protocol. 
(2)
The procedure of co-operation mentioned in paragraph 1 may be laid down in the complementary agreements referred to in Article 25.

Article 21

Each Contracting State retains the right to take all precautions necessary in the interests of its security. 

Article 22

No Contracting State is obliged to extend the privileges and immunities referred to in Article 12, Article 13, Article 14, sub-paragraphs (b), (e) and (g), and Article 15, sub-paragraph (c), to:
(a)
its own nationals; 
(b)
any person who at the time of taking up his functions with the Organisation has his permanent residence in that State and is not an employee of any other inter-governmental organisation whose staff is incorporated into the Organisation. 

Article 23

(1)
Any Contracting State may submit to an international arbitration tribunal any dispute concerning the Organisation or an employee of the European Patent Office or an expert performing functions for or on its behalf, in so far as the Organisation or the employees and experts have claimed a privilege or an immunity under this Protocol in circumstances where that immunity has not been waived. 
(2)
If a Contracting State intends to submit a dispute to arbitration, it shall notify the Chairman of the Administrative Council, who shall forthwith inform each Contracting State of such notification. 
(3)
The procedure laid down in paragraph 1 of this Article shall not apply to disputes between the Organisation and the employees or experts in respect of the Service Regulations or conditions of employment or, with regard to the employees, the Pension Scheme Regulations. 
(4)
No appeal shall lie against the award of the arbitration tribunal, which shall be final; it shall be binding on the parties. In case of dispute concerning the import or scope of the award, it shall be incumbent upon the arbitration tribunal to interpret it on request by either party. 

Article 24

(1)
The arbitration tribunal referred to in Article 23 shall consist of three members, one arbitrator nominated by the State or States party to the arbitration, one arbitrator nominated by the Administrative Council and a third arbitrator, who shall be the chairman, nominated by the said two arbitrators.
(2)
The arbitrators shall be nominated from a panel comprising no more than six arbitrators appointed by each Contracting State and six arbitrators appointed by the Administrative Council. This panel shall be established as soon as possible after the Protocol enters into force and shall be revised each time this proves necessary. 
(3)
If, within three months from the date of the notification referred to in Article 23, paragraph 2, either party fails to make the nomination referred to in paragraph 1 above, the choice of the arbitrator shall, on request of the other party, be made by the President of the International Court of Justice from the persons included in the said panel. This shall also apply, when so requested by either party, if within one month from the date of appointment of the second arbitrator, the first two arbitrators are unable to agree on the nomination of the third arbitrator. However, if, in these two cases, the President of the International Court of Justice is prevented from making the choice, or if he is a national of one of the States parties to the dispute, the Vice-President of the International Court of Justice shall make the aforementioned appointments, provided that he himself is not a national of one of the States parties to the dispute; if such is the case, the member of the International Court of Justice who is not a national of one of the States parties to the dispute and who has been chosen by the President or Vice-President shall make the appointments. A national of the State applying for arbitration may not be chosen to fill the post of the arbitrator whose appointment devolves on the Administrative Council nor may a person included in the panel and appointed by the Administrative Council be chosen to fill the post of an arbitrator whose appointment devolves on the State which is the claimant. Nor may a person of either of these categories be chosen as chairman of the Tribunal.
(4)
The arbitration tribunal shall draw up its own rules of procedure. 

Article 25

The Organisation may, on a decision of the Administrative Council, conclude with one or more Contracting States complementary agreements to give effect to the provisions of this Protocol as regards such State or States, and other arrangements to ensure the efficient functioning of the Organisation and the safeguarding of its interests. 

 

 
[ 1 ] See decision CA/D 31/08 of the Administrative Council of 10 December 2008 determining the members of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office to whom Article 15 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Patent Organisation applies (OJ EPO 2009, 28).
[ 2 ] See decision CA/D 31/08 of the Administrative Council of 10 December 2008 determining the members of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office to whom Article 15 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Patent Organisation applies (OJ EPO 2009, 28).