Diplomatic Conference for the revision of the EPC

Updating an international treaty is not a short-term exercise but, in reality, starts the very next day after a diplomatic conference has adopted the treaty for the first time. Over the years, since the conclusion of the EPC in 1973, a number of deficiencies and weaknesses as well as many proposals for improvement had been noted. Towards the end of the 1990s, time was ripe for the first comprehensive revision of the EPC, and in 1998 the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation agreed on a catalogue of legal and technical points for revision.

The aims of the revision were the following:

  • First of all, it was indispensable to take into account developments in international law, in particular the TRIPs Agreement and the Patent Law Treaty 2000.
  • The second aim was to satisfy the justified needs and expectations of the user community, for instance by establishing a new centralised limitation procedure before the EPO and making possible a limited judicial review of Boards of Appeal decisions.
  • Thirdly, the EPO had to meet its own demands in view of the workload, inter alia by enabling the EPO to introduce Office-wide the BEST system (Bringing Search and Examination Together).
  • Fourthly, there was a general interest in eliminating unnecessary requirements (deregulation).
  • Finally, the EPC had to be made more adaptable by streamlining the articles of the EPC itself, transferring many details of a procedural or administrative character to the Implementing Regulations.

The detailed proposals for revision of the EPC were prepared by a Task Force comprising members from all EPO departments and were subject of a broad-based consultation, not least of the user community through the channels of the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO). All proposals were then thoroughly examined and refined in a number of meetings of the Organisation’s Committee on Patent Law comprising experts from all Contracting States, observer countries and organisations.

Conference Results

The outcome of this intensive preparatory work was nearly one hundred proposals for changes to the EPC, collected in a Basic Proposal for the Revision of the EPC, approved by the Administrative Council in September 2000 and submitted to the Conference of the Contracting States convened under Article 172 EPC and held in Munich from 20 to 29 November 2000:

  • Basic proposal for the revision of the EPC (MR/2/00 , dated 13.10.2000, PDF 396 KB)

The Conference of the Contracting States took place from 20 to 29 November 2000. At the press conference held at the end of the Conference, Mr Grossenbacher, President of the Conference, gave the following account:

  • Statement by the President of the Diplomatic Conference dated 29.11.2000

At the end of the Conference the representatives of the Contracting States signed the Final act of the Conference in which they declare to have drawn up and adopted the text of

The Act revising the EPC (Revision Act) (PDF, 104 KB)

A Diplomatic Conference resolution

A full account of the work of the Diplomatic Conference can be found in the Conference proceedings (PDF 1.9 MB).