Terms and conditions of use for the website of the European Patent Office

  1. Scope of application, modifications

  2. Registration for specific website parts

  3. Purpose of the website

  4. User obligations

  5. Information on the website

  6. Copyright, use of information

  7. Technical errors and malfunctions, availability

  8. Security

  9. Liability

  10. Forums

  11. Specific terms of use for Espacenet

  12. User-specific services for Office procedures

  13. Specific terms and conditions for Patent Translate

  14. Privacy policy

  15. European Patent Convention and Protocol on Privileges and Immunities

  16. Severability 


  1. Scope of application, modifications

    1.1 The website of the European Patent Office ("website") is offered by the European Patent Organisation ("EPO"), acting through the European Patent Office ("Office"), as a telemedia service on the basis of the following terms and conditions of use ("terms").

    1.2 These terms govern access to and use of all parts of the website, all documents, materials or other information such as text, images, audio files, films and software made available on the website (collectively: "information") and all services (e.g. online seminars) offered via the website ("services"). By using the website, you implicitly agree to be bound by these terms as published on the website at the time of each use.

    1.3 Certain services or parts of the website may be additionally subject to separate terms. If you wish to use such a service or part, you will be asked separately to consent to those other terms. Where these terms themselves contain specific provisions for particular services or parts (sections 11, 12 and 13), those provisions apply even without additional consent.

    1.4 These terms may be amended or supplemented. You consent to these terms anew each time you use the website and are bound by them as currently published on the website at the time of each use.

    1.5 Subject to any legal provisions on access to documents made available by the Office in electronic form, the EPO reserves the right to modify, restrict or discontinue, entirely or in part, at any time and without prior notice, the services and information available free of charge on the website, and the right to restrict free access to the website. In all such cases, the EPO will take account of the users' interests.

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  2. Registration for specific website parts

    2.1 Where you have to register to use the website or one of its parts, the provisions of this section 2 apply.

    2.2 For each registration on the website, you must provide correct and complete details and, if necessary, update them. You must not misuse the granted access rights (e.g. by transmitting data to unauthorised third parties).

    2.3 It is your responsibility as a registered user to keep your account details and password confidential in order to prevent any unauthorised access to your account. You must take all steps necessary to secure your password and keep it confidential and must inform the EPO without delay by writing to Communication@epo.org if it is or could be used without authorisation.

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  3. Purpose of the website

    The general purpose of the website is to inform the public about the EPO and its activities and provide access to documents which the Office makes available under the applicable legal provisions. It also offers additional services, such as facilities for interactive communication with the EPO and/or other users and for web‑based transactions.

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  4. User obligations

    4.1 When using the website, you must comply with applicable laws and regulations. You must not attack the EPO's network security, in particular by uploading or attaching files which are infected with viruses or corrupted or any similar software or programs capable of impairing the operation of another user's computer. You also must not impair or in any way attempt to impair other users' access to or use of the website or services (e.g. by generating, whether manually or by automated means, an unusually high number of accesses).

    4.2 The website is not intended for use as a source for bulk downloads of data. If you wish to obtain large volumes of data, you should contact patentdata@epo.org.

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  5. Information on the website

    5.1 Unless otherwise stated, the information is purely general in nature and is not to be construed as addressing the specific circumstances of any particular case, individual or entity. Unless otherwise stated in a specific case, the EPO does not guarantee that the information is exhaustive, accurate or up to date.

    5.2 None of the information constitutes professional or legal advice.

    5.3 Section 5.1 above does not apply to:

    • European patent applications and European search reports (Adocuments) and European patent specifications (Bdocuments) published on the European Publication Server as prescribed in the decision of the President of the Office dated 12 July 2007 concerning the form of publication of European patent applications, European search reports and European patent specifications (Special edition No.3, OJ EPO 2007, D.3) and in previous decisions superseded by that decision.
    • files of European patent applications and patents accessible via the European Patent Register online service as prescribed in the decision of the President of the Office dated 12July 2007 on the inspection of files (Special edition No.3, OJ EPO 2007, J.2) and previous decisions superseded by that decision.
    • the European Patent Register, available for inspection via the online service of that name.
    • the issues of the European Patent Bulletin published since 1 January 2005.
    • the officially certified PDF files of the Office's Official Journal published since 1 January 2014.
    • where not already covered above, official communications and decisions, summons and notifications made available only on the website by the EPO or one of its organs.

    5.4 Official documents published or destined for publication in paper form (such as the European Patent Convention and its protocols) and HTML versions of the Office's Official Journal are made available on the website for your convenience only. Where the paper version of an official document conflicts with the online version, the paper version takes precedence. Where the paper version or the certified PDF version of the Office's Official Journal conflicts with the HTML version on the website, the paper or PDF version takes precedence.

    5.5 The data and information on the legal status of patents or patent applications (with the exception of the services and products related to the European patent procedure until grant) are provided by the respective national patent authorities and made available by the Office as received, without warranty of any kind and for information only. Such data and information are third‑party content within the meaning of section 9.4 of these terms. The national patent authorities bear sole responsibility for the accuracy of the data and information they provide. You can obtain authoritative information on legal status from the appropriate national patent authority.

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  6. Copyright, use of information

    6.1 All information published on the website, save for official publications, is protected by copyright and is the property of the EPO or the person credited as its provider or author. You may use the information only to the extent expressly specified in these terms. Section 6.2 below applies only to the EPO's own information, while third-party content within the meaning of section 9.4 is subject to section 6.6.

    6.2 You may:
    (a) access and display the information online for private and commercial purposes

    (b) download and print the information for private and commercial purposes and

    (c) process the information for private and commercial purposes, subject to the conditions specified in section 6.4.

    6.3 The above is without prejudice to any statutory provisions (including those on making copies for private or other use).

    6.4 Without prejudice to section 6.5 below, you may use information as described in section 6.2 above only if not otherwise specified and subject to the following conditions:

    • When distributing or reproducing information, you must display it accurately and cite the website as your source.
    • When using information to produce adaptations by translation, conversion, modification or the creation of other derivative works, you must:
      • mark or distinguish any alterations appropriately or otherwise clearly indicate that you have changed the original information
      • name the author of the information or, if named instead on the website, the person credited as its provider and cite the website as your source, and
      • expressly grant third parties a right to reproduce and distribute your adaptation subject to the conditions specified in this section 6.
    • If you create a link to a particular part or page of the website, the website must be the sole element of the browser's window, i.e. it must not appear within another website's frame.
    • Your right of use does not include permission to copy all - or a substantial part of - the data, data structures and software from the Office or EPO databases accessible from the website and, in particular, does not permit you to use data mining, robots or similar tools for gathering and extracting data except where this is a specific feature of the service provided.

    6.5 To make commercial use of the content of the Office or EPO databases accessible from the website to provide the EPO or third parties with database‑search or information‑retrieval services, including marketing‑related activities such as search aids, you must conclude a separate licence agreement with the EPO.

    6.6 Exceptions:

    Third‑party content (see section 9.4) may, even in the form of extracts, be reproduced, published or reprinted, be it in print or by electronic means, only with the prior written consent of the EPO or the proprietor of the relevant rights.

    The EPO's official logo and all its registered trade marks are protected and may not be used or reproduced without its prior written consent, which you can request by writing to Communication@epo.org.

    Photographs and other graphical or image material may not be reproduced, published or printed without the EPO's prior written consent, unless they have been expressly made available for download.

    6.7 All unlawful use, including any use liable to create the impression you are authorised or qualified to register, renew or administer industrial property rights is prohibited.

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  7. Technical errors and malfunctions, availability

    7.1 The EPO endeavours to minimise technical errors and malfunctions. However, some data or information on the website may have been created or structured in files or formats that are not error-free. The EPO does not guarantee that the underlying files and the formats used are error-free and will not cause your systems to malfunction.

    In particular, the EPO cannot guarantee that XML data for documents published before 1 January 2006 accurately replicates the originals. Unless otherwise stated, only the PDF versions of such documents are accurate replications or electronic publications of the originals of the documents covered by the decisions of the President referred to in section 5.3 above. All HTML views of XML data are provided for your convenience only and the EPO cannot guarantee that they accurately display the underlying XML data.

    7.2 The EPO endeavours to ensure but cannot guarantee essentially uninterrupted availability of the website and services and error-free transmissions. Access to the website or services may also be suspended or restricted from time to time to allow for repairs and maintenance or the introduction of new services or tools.

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  8. Security

    For some services and parts of the website, the EPO secures data with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology. As an authorised user, you can access some services by entering a username and password created by you or provided to you by the EPO, while others may require that you identify yourself by means of an electronic signature in the form of a smart card issued or recognised by the Office. The issue, use and recognition of smart cards are governed by separate terms and conditions of use.

    However, the EPO cannot guarantee that data will be absolutely secure at all times from attacks by third parties or that the data‑transmission process is absolutely secure.

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  9. Liability

    9.1 Unless otherwise specified below, the EPO's liability for breaches of contractual and non-contractual obligations is governed by the relevant statutory provisions.

    9.2 The EPO is liable for damages - irrespective of the legal basis - in cases of intentional acts or gross negligence. In cases of simple negligence, it is liable only for:

    (a) damage caused by death, personal injury or damage to health,

    (b) damage caused by a breach of an essential contractual obligation (i.e. one on compliance with which a contractual partner is usually and legitimately entitled to rely as a precondition for due performance of the contract) but only to the extent that it is foreseeable and typical of such a breach.

    The EPO's liability is otherwise excluded.

    9.3 The limitations on liability under section 9.2 do not apply if the EPO fraudulently failed to disclose a defect or provided a guarantee or in cases of claims under the German Product Liability Act (Produkthaftungsgesetz).

    9.4 The website may also contain content not produced by the EPO, including recorded speeches, user posts in forums, post‑grant data supplied by the national patent offices, the PATLIB database, content on other websites linked to via hyperlinks and all information bearing the name of or otherwise clearly attributable to a third party ("third‑party content"). The following applies to third‑party content:

    (a) The EPO does not verify whether it is complete, accurate or lawful or check its quality or suitability for any particular purpose and does not provide any guarantee or accept any responsibility in those respects. This also applies to third-party content on external websites which is referred to by links or other means.

    (b) Sole responsibility lies with the author, speaker or other person from whose ideas it originated.

    (c) It does not necessarily reflect the views of the EPO. Where the EPO publishes on the website references to events, statements, services or products of third parties, this does not necessarily mean that the EPO endorses or supports them.

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  10. Forums

    10.1 You agree to use the website facilities for exchanging information or communicating with the Office or other users online via bulletin boards, chat rooms, wiki pages, mailing lists or other means of posting messages or documents (collectively: "forums") only to send messages or materials relating to the forum subject, and, when so using them, to respect generally accepted standards of polite and correct communication. Forums are for non‑commercial use only. In particular, you must not:

    • defame, abuse, harass, threaten or stalk others or otherwise violate their rights (e.g. their right to privacy or to protection of their personal data).
    • publish any defamatory, insulting, obscene, indecent or unlawful messages or materials.
    • post comments on proceedings pending before the Office.
    • upload or attach materials or files containing software or other materials protected by intellectual property rights (or rights to privacy or protection of personal data), unless you are the proprietor of those rights or have obtained any consent required by law.
    • upload or attach files which are infected with viruses or corrupted or any other similar software or programs capable of impairing the operation of another user's computer.
    • delete any author attributions, legal notices or proprietary designations or labels in uploaded files.
    • falsify the origin or source of software or other materials in uploaded files.
    • advertise or offer for sale any goods or services, conduct or forward surveys or competitions or send chain letters.
    • copy, reproduce, republish, download, post, broadcast, transmit, make available to the public, create derivative works from or otherwise use forum content other than for non‑commercial purposes. If you know, or can reasonably be expected to know, that content or materials are unlawful, you may not use or disseminate them even for personal, non-commercial purposes.

    10.2 The EPO is entitled but not obliged to screen content uploaded to or otherwise published in the forums, which constitutes third-party content within the meaning of section 9.4. It may at its discretion investigate reasonable indications that certain content is unlawful or that the website is being used contrary to these terms and, if appropriate, take measures to end this situation. In particular, it is entitled to:

    • remove content of a personal nature or prohibited under section 10.1.
    • edit any post or heading.
    • merge, split or move any thread or sub-thread.
    • merge, split or move any thread or sub-thread.
    • prohibit the uploading of particular information.

    The EPO is entitled to remove posts which it considers obsolete.

    10.3 The EPO may temporarily or permanently block your access to forums if there is specific evidence that that you are breaching or have breached these terms or any applicable law when using the website or if it has any other legitimate interest in blocking your access. In particular, it may have such a legitimate interest if it has received complaints about content published by you on the website. In deciding whether to block your access - and, if so, for how long - it will take account of users' legitimate interests.

    10.4 The EPO will as a rule warn you by e‑mail before blocking your access but may exceptionally refrain from doing so if it considers this justified in your specific case. In deciding whether to warn you, it will take account of users' legitimate interests.

    10.5 If your access is blocked, you will be informed by e-mail.

    10.6 By uploading content to or submitting material for use in a forum, you grant the EPO free of charge a non-exclusive transferable right to:

    • save it on its server and publish it, in particular by making it accessible to the public.
    • to edit it and make copies where this is necessary to make it available and publish it and for the EPO's exercise of its rights under this section 10.6.

    You will retain all other rights to the content.

    10.7 You declare and guarantee that you are the sole proprietor of all rights to the content you upload or are otherwise authorised (e.g. by virtue of valid permission granted by the proprietor of the rights) to upload it and to grant the EPO the rights to use it as provided in section 10.6 above.

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  11. Specific terms of use for Espacenet

    11.1 Espacenet is an entry-level, internet-based service you can use to search for patent documents. It provides basic search and retrieval functions for a range of patent specifications and patent-related documents. It is not a replacement for professional services or advice. For example, you should not interpret an Espacenet search yielding no results as giving you unlimited freedom of action. You should not take any important commercial or financial decisions on the basis of Espacenet search results.

    11.2 The Espacenet service is subject to hardware and bandwidth limitations and is not intended for use as a source for bulk downloads of data. You are requested to respect the "Fair use charter for the EPO's online patent information products". If you wish to obtain large volumes of data (e.g. facsimile page images), you should contact patentdata@epo.org.

    The EPO endeavours to minimise technical errors and malfunctions and ensure that the Espacenet service is usually available. However, owing to regular maintenance and updates carried out on Mondays to Saturdays from 5.00 hrs to 5.30 hrs CET and on Sundays from 5.00 hrs to 5.45 hrs CET, parts of the service will be unavailable at those times, while other, temporary service outages owing to malfunctions occurring outside those times cannot be excluded.

    11.3 "Espacenet" is an EPO trade mark.

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  12. User-specific services for Office procedures

    12.1 The EPO provides on the website, in accordance with the applicable legal basis and documentation, user-specific services and related information for use in procedures before the Office (e.g. the new online filing system (CMS), web-form filing, Register Alert service, My Files and Mailbox).

    12.2 You may be required to register to use these services. The EPO reserves the right to deactivate your authorisation as a registered user without prior notice if you do not access a service for any period of six months, unless this is precluded by other legal provisions.

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  13. Specific terms and conditions for Patent Translate

    You can use the Patent Translate service to generate machine translations of patent documents. The EPO cannot guarantee that the translations are intelligible, accurate, complete, reliable or fit for any particular purpose. You should not take any important commercial or financial decisions on the basis of a machine translation.

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  14. Privacy policy

    The EPO data protection and privacy policy can be found here: data protection and privacy

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  15. European Patent Convention and Protocol on Privileges and Immunities

    These terms apply without prejudice to the European Patent Convention ("EPC") and the EPO's secondary legislation, in particular any legal acts adopted on the basis of the EPC, and are therefore to be interpreted so as to preserve at all times the rights of the EPO and its organs under the EPC and the annexed Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the EPO, both signed in Munich on 5 October 1973.

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  16. Severability

    If, for any reason, a provision of these terms is held to be invalid, illegal or otherwise unenforceable, this will not affect the remaining provisions. The terms are then to be interpreted to give effect as far as possible to their original object and purpose and as if they did not include the unenforceable provision.

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