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About us

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.

New EPO building in The Hague

Origin

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 38 member states, including all 28 EU member states plus countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

Governance

The EPO is the executive arm of the European Patent Organisation, an international organisation with 38 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 current President of the European Patent Office is António Campinos. He took up office on 1 July 2018.

EPO President Antonio Campinos

Staff

The EPO is one of the largest public service organisations in Europe, employing some 7 000 staff of 35 different nationalities. Of them, 4 300 are highly qualified scientists and engineers working as patent examiners in all fields of technology.

Structure

Click on the image to view the large format

Locations

The EPO has its headquarters in Munich, a branch in The Hague and offices in Berlin, Vienna and Brussels.

Budget

The EPO is financed entirely by fees paid by users. In 2019, it has a budget of EUR 2.4 billion.

Geographic scope of the European patent protection

European patents provide protection not only in the 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation but also in two extension states and four validation states. This represents an area with some 700 million inhabitants.

Geographic scope of the European patent protection

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Languages

The three official languages of the EPO are English, French and German. Patent applications may be filed in any of them.

Key figures of 2018

Demand for patents - European patent applications

Top technology fields

Medical technologies +5.0%
Digital communication +0.7%
Computer technology +3.3%

Geographic origin

  • 1 US

    43 612

    +2.7%
  • 2 Germany

    26 734

    +4.7%
  • 3 Japan

    22 615

    +3.9%
  • 4 France

    10 317

    -2.8%
  • 5 People's Rep. of China

    9 401

    +8.8%