European Patent Convention

This year the European Patent Convention (EPC) celebrates its 50th anniversary and the significant value it brings to our applicants, the industry, innovation, and European society. As the foundation for a sustainable European patent system, the EPC has demonstrated its adaptability to technological change, thereby fulfilling its aim to support global innovation while serving the interests of the European public. By providing a clear and consistent legal framework, legal certainty, predictability and quality have been ensured. By offering protection in up to 44 states covering a population of some 700 million inhabitants, patents granted by the EPO under the EPC result in a uniform scope of patent protection in many of the world’s most important economies.

Quality is enshrined at the core of the EPC for every stage of the patent grant process. Our search divisions provide comprehensive searches, and also detailed opinions on patentability. Likewise, Article 18 of the EPC stipulates that all proposals for grant or refusal must be signed off by the three-member examining division. Oral proceedings in examination also involve the three-member examining division to ensure objectivity. The EPC also guarantees the right to be heard and provides opportunities for third-party observations and opposition (also overseen by a three-person opposition division under Article 19 EPC). Decisions taken by the examining or opposition divisions can be appealed to the Boards of Appeal.

Applicants seeking worldwide patent protection may use the services of the EPO under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). PCT applications may be filed, searched and examined at the EPO.