European Patent Office, EPO

The European Patent Office (EPO) provides a central one-stop service to individual inventors, researchers and companies in Europe. It enables them to obtain patent protection in up to 38 European states through a uniform and centralised procedure requiring just one application.

European Patent Office in The Hague

Over the past 30 years, the EPO has received approximately 2.5 million patent applications and has granted more than 800,000 European patents. The EPO is today the second largest European organisation, employing more than 6,500 staff of 30 different nationalities at five sites in four countries.

Largest international organisation

The EPO’s site in Rijswijk, near The Hague, is by far the largest international organisation seated in the Netherlands. With about 2,600 staff, it is also one of the region's most important employers. The core business of the EPO is the examination of European patent applications on the basis of a centralised procedure for all contracting states. This procedure is based on the provisions of the European Patent Convention (EPC) and involves the publication of search reports and the granting of patents or refusal of the patent application.

The procedure also allows for legal remedies to review decisions reached by the Office by third parties, such as opposition procedures and also appeals before the boards of appeal, the EPO’s independent second instance judiciary. Patent infringement cases, however, are dealt with by the competent national courts.

Comprehensive electronic databases

At present, the majority of applications are filed for patents in the fields of medical technology, information and communications technology and electronics. The EPO also collects patent documents from all over the world. Its comprehensive electronic databases are probably the largest single source of information on technology in the world today. The EPO also provides free access to approximately 62 million patent documents from around 80 countries.

Contact details

European Patent Office, EPO
Europees Octrooibureau
Patentlaan 2
P.O. Box 5818
2280 HV Rijswijk
Telephone: 070 - 340 20 40

Published: 11 April 2017Modified: 3 September 2018