The EPO at a glance

Welcome to the EPO

The European Patent Office (EPO) examines European patent applications, enabling inventors, researchers and companies from around the world to obtain protection for their inventions in up to 44 countries through a centralised and uniform procedure that requires just one application.

New EPO building in The Hague


The European Patent Office (EPO) was set up in 1973. From 16 signatory states of the European Patent Convention in 1973, the Organisation has now grown to 38 member states, including all 27 EU member states plus countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.


The EPO is the executive arm of the European Patent Organisation, an international organisation with 38 member states. The EPO’s activities and budget are overseen by the Organisation’s Administrative Council, which consists of representatives of the member states.

Leadership and management

The current President of the European Patent Office is António Campinos. He took up office on 1 July 2018.

EPO President Antonio Campinos


The EPO is one of the largest public service organisations in Europe, employing some 6 400 staff of 34 different nationalities. Of them, over 4 200 are highly qualified scientists and engineers working as patent examiners in all fields of technology.


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The three official languages of the EPO are English, French and German. Patent applications may be filed in any of them.


The EPO has its headquarters in Munich, a branch in The Hague and offices in Berlin, Vienna and Brussels.


The EPO is financed entirely by fees paid by users. In 2021, it has a budget of EUR 2.4 billion.

Geographic scope of the European patent protection

European patents provide protection not only in the 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation but also in two extension states and four validation states. This represents an area with some 700 million inhabitants.

Geographic scope of the European patent protection

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Bilateral co-operation

The EPO has established long-term partnerships with other IP offices around the world to further integrate and strengthen the global patent system. They aim to foster innovation, and support bilateral trade and investment – a boon to both local innovators and our international users.

Key figures of 2020

Demand for patents - European patent applications

Top technology fields

% change of European patent applications 2020 vs. 2019

Medical technologies +2.6%
Digital communication +1.0%
Computer technology +1.9%

Geographic origin

European patent applications 2020 by country of origin

  • 1 US

    44 293

    - 4.1%
  • 2 Germany

    25 954

    - 3.0%
  • 3 Japan

    21 841

    - 1.1%
  • 4 People's Rep. of China

    13 432

    + 9.9%
  • 5 France

    10 554

    + 3.1%

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