Terms and conditions for use of the EPO's Open Patent Services (OPS)
1.1 These terms and conditions govern the use of the Open Patent Services ("OPS") provided by the European Patent Organisation ("EPO").
1.2 They supplement the terms and conditions of use for the website of the European Patent Office ("Office"), which also apply unless otherwise provided below. The General terms and conditions for the delivery of EPO information products do not apply to OPS.
1.3 OPS is a web service which provides access to the Office's raw data via a machine-readable (e.g. XML) interface. The data is extracted from the Office's databases, such as its bibliographic, legal status, full-text and image databases or the European Patent Register.
Conclusion of contract
Acceptance of the present terms and conditions and provision of all required contact and, where applicable, invoicing details by the user constitutes an offer to the EPO to conclude a contract on access to OPS. The EPO may accept this offer, in which case a contract is concluded between the EPO and the user. The EPO will send its acceptance by email.
Use of the data
3.1 Upon conclusion of the contract the user receives a non-exclusive, non-transferable, worldwide licence to access OPS and use the data obtained via OPS as specified below. Users may use and include these data in their own machine-readable databases, products and services ("products") and may distribute the data as part of these products.
3.2 Users are not permitted to make the data as such available to the public or to copy and/or distribute the data as such.
3.3 When downloading data, users must respect the Fair use charter for the EPO's online patent information products ("Fair use charter"), as applicable and published on the Office's website at the time of downloading.
4.1 The volume of data that may be downloaded via OPS free of charge each week is subject to a threshold ("free threshold").
4.2 For a volume of data in excess of the free threshold, and within the limits imposed by the Fair use charter, a flat rate price ("yearly subscription price") applies. The yearly subscription price and the free threshold are specified in the brochure "EPO Patent Information Products and Services - Price list" (epo.org/en/service-support/ordering).
4.3 A week is a calendar week from Monday 00.00 hrs to Sunday 24.00 hrs Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
4.4 The above yearly subscription price and the free threshold can be changed by the EPO in accordance with Article 9.
4.5 Users wishing to download data in excess of the free threshold must provide the required invoicing details (see Article 5.1 below). They will not be able to download such data until the EPO has completed its customer validation process.
Users who do not provide the EPO with the required invoicing details will not be able to download data in excess of the free threshold.
4.6 Where it considers it necessary, the EPO is entitled to make the downloading of data in excess of the free threshold dependent on prior payment.
In such cases, users will be able to download data in excess of the free threshold only once such prior payment has been received by the EPO.
4.7 No royalties are due to the EPO from the sale or licensing by users of products they have developed using data obtained via OPS or products in which they have included such data.
5.1 When registering, users must provide correct and complete information, as required in the registration form.
Users wishing to download data in excess of the free threshold must provide the invoicing details required in the registration form.
They must ensure that this information is always correct and update it where necessary.
5.2 Any person who registers a user for OPS and accepts the present terms and conditions on that user's behalf must be authorised to do so.
5.3 All correspondence, especially regarding subscription, termination, cancellation, or defect liability claims, must be conducted either in writing or by email. The EPO's addresses for such correspondence are:
European Patent Office
Customer Service Centre
Post box 90
5.4 By registering, users agree to being contacted by the EPO by email or letter. They also agree to the EPO monitoring and/or recording data on their use of OPS, in order to ascertain whether the free threshold has been reached, invoice use of OPS in excess of the free threshold in accordance with Article 4 and ensure that sufficient IT capacity is available.
5.5 Registered users are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of their account and security details in order to prevent unauthorised access to that account. They must take all necessary steps to keep their access credentials confidential and secure and must inform the EPO without undue delay in accordance with Article 5.3 if these credentials are being used or could be used without authorisation. Upon receiving such information the EPO will contact the user to resolve the issue.
5.6 Where there are indications of possible misuse, the EPO has the right to block a user's access. In such cases, the EPO will inform the user by email without undue delay.
Without prejudice to Article 9 of the European Patent Convention, the EPO is liable only for damage caused by an intentional or grossly negligent breach of duty by its employees, statutory representatives or auxiliary persons. Where a claim for damages against the EPO is based on simple negligence on the part of the EPO (including the persons listed above), the EPO is liable only for death, personal injury or damage to health or for claims based on a breach of an essential contractual obligation. In the latter case, if the claimant is an entrepreneur within the meaning of Section 14 of the German Civil Code, the EPO's liability is limited to typical and foreseeable damage.
7.1 The EPO warrants that, with regard to content, coverage and updates, OPS is in accordance with the general specifications set out on the OPS website and the documentation referred to therein. In the event that OPS does not conform with such specifications, the only obligation of the EPO will be to make, at no additional charge or expense to the user and within a reasonable timeframe, all corrections that are necessary to ensure conformity. If the EPO informs the user that corrections to the data are available, the user must incorporate them without undue delay. The user releases the EPO from all third-party claims arising from a failure to make such corrections or a failure to do so in due time.
7.2 The EPO makes no warranty, express or implied, as to the completeness and accuracy of OPS or its merchantability or fitness for a particular use or purpose. Any implied liability is hereby disclaimed.
Without prejudice to Article 6 above, the EPO is not liable for any damages, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, special, incidental, punitive, exemplary or consequential damages, arising from the use or inability to use OPS, even if the EPO is advised of the possibility that damage may be caused.
Duration and termination of contract
8.1 The contract concluded between the EPO and the user on the basis of the present terms and conditions is of indefinite duration.
8.2 The EPO and the user each have the right to terminate the contract in writing or by email with a notice period of three months. The termination notice must be sent in accordance with Article 5.3.
8.3 The EPO has the right to terminate the contract at any time without notice for serious breach of contract by the user. A serious breach is, in particular, a violation of Article 3.2 or the conclusion of several contracts by a user in order to avoid or reduce payment for downloading data in excess of the free threshold within the meaning of Article 4.
Amendments of the terms and conditions
The EPO reserves the right to amend these terms and conditions, including the yearly subscription price and the free threshold, at any time. It will notify users of any such amendments by email. The amendments will take effect two months after the date of their notification. Users may object to them within one month of receipt of the notification. This will result in termination of the contract. Continued use of OPS constitutes acceptance of the amendments concerned, with the contract between the EPO and the user being adapted accordingly. The EPO will draw users' attention to this consequence when informing them of any amendments.
Applicable law and disputes
10.1 The contract concluded between the EPO and the user is governed by German law, excluding the provisions of German private international law. The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods does not apply.
10.2 Any dispute arising from or in connection with the contract will be finally settled by binding arbitration with one single arbitrator in accordance with the provisions of the German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO). The venue for arbitration is Munich.
10.3 If the EPO waives its immunity from national jurisdiction, the sole legal venue for any dispute arising from or in connection with the contract is Munich.
Should a clause of the contract be or become invalid, the remainder of the contract remains in force. The invalid clause must be replaced by a valid clause coming closest to achieving the object and purpose of the invalid clause.
Version 2.0 - 9.2017