European Patent Convention

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European Patent Convention

Title (engl.): European Patent Convention
Abbreviation: EPC / EPC / CBE
Date: 5th October 1973
Come into effect: 7th October 1977
Reference: SR
Contract type: Multinational
Legal matter: Intellectual Property
Ratification : 38 member countries (October 1, 2010)

Germany: 7th October 1977
Liechtenstein: April 1, 1980
Austria: May 1, 1979
Switzerland: 7th October 1977
Please note the note on the applicable contract version .

The European Patent Convention ( EPC ; English European Patent Convention , EPC ; French Convention sur le brevet européen , CBE ) is an international treaty that created the European Patent Organization (EPO) and regulates the granting of European patents . Through the EPC, its contracting states also form a special association in accordance with the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property ( Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property ), so they must comply with its provisions (e.g. on priority ).


The European Patent Convention was signed by 16 European states on October 5, 1973 at a conference in Munich and entered into force for Belgium , France , Germany , Luxembourg , the Netherlands , Switzerland and the United Kingdom on October 7, 1977. Other states subsequently ratified the agreement.

Another conference of the member states took place in 1991, at which the term of a European patent was set at twenty years. This change came into force for the majority of Member States on July 4, 1997.

A fundamental revision of the convention took place in 2000. The aim of the revision was to make the convention more flexible, to adapt it to newer international treaties and to take better account of the needs of the applicants. The amended Convention, briefly known as EPC 2000 after the year it was signed , entered into force for the vast majority of member states on December 13, 2007. A large number of the Member States that have since acceded only adopted the last revised version from 2000.

With the accession of Serbia on October 1, 2010, 38 contracting states now belong to the European Patent Convention.


The agreement was concluded in order to centralize the granting of patents within Europe and to harmonize the patent law of its contracting states. Instead of filing national patent applications in each state in which patent protection is desired, under the EPC only one application needs to be filed, which is processed centrally by the European Patent Office (EPO), an organ of the European Patent Organization (EPO). The contracting states for which a European patent is requested must be specified in the application.

A European patent can also be applied for by filing an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and initiating the regional EP phase after the international phase has ended.

In addition to the actual grant procedure, the central processing phase before the European Patent Office may also contain an opposition procedure if an objection is raised within nine months of the announcement of the grant of a patent.

After that, the European Patent Office is no longer responsible; the European patent “splits up” into a bundle of national patents in the contracting states named in the application, which are equivalent to the patents granted by national patent offices. Nullity actions against European patents can therefore only be brought before the national courts.


The European Patent Convention consists of several parts:

  • The European Patent Convention in the narrower sense (preamble and Articles 1 to 178, Federal Law Gazette 1976 II p. 826). It lays down the essential basics, e.g. B. Structure and responsibilities of the European Patent Organization , substantive patent law, patentability, the persons authorized to file and obtain a European patent, the effects of the patent application, the formal requirements of an application, the grant procedure, the opposition and appeal procedure and the effects on national and international law.
  • The Implementing Regulations (originally rules 1 to 106, Federal Law Gazette 1976 II p. 915) regulate detailed questions on the languages ​​and organization of the European Patent Office and on details of the administrative procedure. The Implementing Regulations can be changed by the Administrative Council , an organ of the European Patent Organization; this was used over 35 times. A new version of the implementation regulations was decided on December 7, 2006 (Federal Law Gazette 2007 II pp. 1199, 1290).
  • There are four protocols:
    • Protocol on jurisdiction and the recognition of decisions on claims arising from the grant of a European patent (recognition protocol , Federal Law Gazette 1976 II p. 982),
    • Protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Patent Organization (Immunities Protocol , BGBl. 1976 II p. 985),
    • Protocol on the centralization of the European patent system and its introduction (Centralization Protocol , Federal Law Gazette 1976 II p. 995)
    • Protocol on the interpretation of Article 69 of the Convention (Federal Law Gazette 1976 II p. 1000) regarding the scope of protection of European patents.
  • A separately issued schedule of fees dated October 20, 1977 (Federal Law Gazette 1978 II pp. 1133, 1148; revised on December 7, 2006, Federal Law Gazette 2007 II, pp. 1199, 1290 with several subsequent amendments) is sent to the European Patent Office paid fees resistant and contains provisions for the implementation of payments .

Contracting and extension and validation states

Contracting states (dark green) and extension states (light green) as well as validation states (blue) of the European Patent Convention
No. Country Abbreviation Contracting state since Extension or validation state since E or V
1 Belgium (*) BE Oct 7, 1977
2 Germany (*) DE Oct 7, 1977
3 France (*) FR Oct 7, 1977
4th Luxembourg (*) LU Oct 7, 1977
5 Netherlands (*) NL Oct 7, 1977
6th Switzerland (*) CH Oct 7, 1977
7th Great Britain (*) GB Oct 7, 1977
8th Sweden (*) SE May 1, 1978
9 Italy (*) IT Dec. 1, 1978
10 Austria (*) AT May 1, 1979
11 Liechtenstein (*) LI Apr 1, 1980
12 Greece (*) GR Oct. 1, 1986
13 Spain (*) IT Oct. 1, 1986
14th Denmark (*) DK Jan. 1, 1990
15th Monaco (*) MC Dec 1, 1991
16 Portugal (*) PT Jan. 1, 1992
17th Ireland (*) IE Aug 1, 1992
18th Finland (*) FI 1st Mar 1996
19th Cyprus CY Apr 1, 1998
20th Turkey TR Nov 1, 2000
21st Bulgaria BG July 1, 2002
22nd Czech Republic CZ July 1, 2002
23 Estonia EE July 1, 2002
24 Slovakia SK July 1, 2002
25th Slovenia SI Dec. 1, 2002 1st Mar 1994 E.
26th Hungary HU Jan. 1, 2003
27 Romania RO 1st Mar 2003 Oct 15, 1996 E.
28 Poland PL 1st Mar 2004
29 Iceland (*) IS Nov 1, 2004
30th Lithuania LT Dec. 1, 2004 5th July 1994 E.
31 Latvia LV July 1, 2005 May 1, 1995 E.
32 Malta MT 1st Mar 2007
33 Croatia MR Jan. 1, 2008 Apr 1, 2004 E.
34 Norway (*) NO Jan. 1, 2008
35 North Macedonia MK Jan. 1, 2009 Nov 1, 1997 E.
36 San Marino SM July 1, 2009
37 Albania AL May 1, 2010 Feb. 1, 1996 E.
38 Serbia RS Oct 1, 2010 Nov 1, 2004 E.
Bosnia and Herzegovina BA Dec. 1, 2004 E.
Montenegro ME 1st Mar 2010 E.
Morocco MA 1st Mar 2015 V
Moldova MD Nov 1, 2015 V
Tunisia TN Dec. 1, 2017 V
Cambodia KH 1st Mar 2018 V

The European Patent Convention was signed by 38 contracting states. These include all 28 EU member states and 10 other states (as of December 2014). As the last member to date, Serbia joined the organization on October 1, 2010: Representatives of the countries marked with (*) in the table took part in the diplomatic conference for the establishment of the organization. These states were therefore entitled to join the organization by ratification. Iceland only ratified the agreement in 2004; in Norway it entered into force on January 1, 2008.

All contracting states to the EPC are also contracting states to the Council of Europe . This gives rise to debate whether the European Patent Organization can join the Council of Europe. It is currently being examined how the EPC can join the Council of Europe.

In addition, between 1993 and 2009 the European Patent Organization concluded agreements on the extension of the protection of European patents with a number of states that (at that time) did not belong to the EPC. It is therefore possible to apply to the European Patent Office for the extension of a European patent application to the extension states. Extension fees must be paid with the application. The patent application then has the same effect in the extension states as a national patent application and can also be registered as a patent there after it has been granted. At present, the extension for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BA) and Montenegro (ME) can be requested. Some former extension states have now become contracting states. For a patent application filed at the time when these were still extension states, an extension can also be requested for these states.

Since 2010, this instrument has been replaced by the validation agreements, which are not restricted to Europe. Four of them are in force, the agreement with Tunisia has been in force since December 1, 2017.

See also


  • Georg Benkard, European Patent Convention. Commentary , 2nd edition, Munich 2012, Verlag CH Beck, ISBN 978-3-406-60579-6
  • Friedrich-Karl Beier, Kurt Haertel , Gerhard Schricker , Joseph Straus (eds.): European Patent Convention, Munich Community Commentary , in deliveries, Carl Heymanns Verlag 1984 ff. (2005 to 28th delivery), ISBN 3-452-19412-4
  • Matthias Brandi-Dorn, Stephan Gruber, Ian Muir: European and International Patent Law . 5th edition, CH Beck, 2002, ISBN 3-406-49180-4
  • Lise Dybdahl: European patent law. 2nd edition, Carl Heymanns Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-452-25682-0
  • Gautschi: EPÜ-Direkt , September 2009, , ISBN 978-3-00-029510-2
  • Hansjörg Kley, Harald Gundlach and Carola Jacobi: Commentary on EPC 2000 . 2nd edition with graphical overviews (mind maps), mfh-verlag, 2008, publication dates: annually January, August, optional updates, online version
  • Margarete Singer / Dieter Stauder (eds.): The European Patent Convention. A Commentary . 2 vol., 3rd ed., Thomson / Sweet & Maxwell / Carl Heymanns, Cologne, Berlin, Berlin, Bonn, Munich 2003.
  • Margarete Singer / Dieter Stauder: European Patent Convention , 5th Edition, Carl Heymanns Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-452-27135-8
  • Tobias Bremi, The European Patent Convention and Proceedings before the EPO, 1st Edition September 2008, ISBN 978-3-452-26880-8
  • Bozic / Düwel / Gabriel / Teufel: EPC and PCT tables , 1st edition, Carl Heymanns Verlag, 2011, ISBN 978-3-452-27682-7

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. Serbia, 38th Member State ( Memento of the original from August 3, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . English, accessed August 5, 2010 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. The accession of the EU to the ECHR - An almost neverending story ["EU accession to the ECHR: A truly neverending story"]. In Hohmann-Dennhardt, Christine et al. (Eds.), Fundamental Rights and Solidarity: Enforcement and Procedure - Festschrift for Renate Jäger (2011) 135-146