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.
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 39 member states, including all 27 EU member states plus countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Türkiye.
The EPO is the executive arm of the European Patent Organisation, an international organisation with 39 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 EPO is one of the largest public service organisations in Europe, employing some 6 300 staff of 34 different nationalities. Of them, over 4 000 are highly qualified scientists and engineers working as patent examiners in all fields of technology.
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 2023, it has a budget of EUR 2.57 billion.
Geographic scope of the European patent protection
European patents provide protection not only in the 39 member states of the European Patent Organisation but also in one extension state and four validation states. This represents an area with some 700 million inhabitants.
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 2022
Demand for patents - European patent application