40th Anniversary of the European Patent Convention (EPC)

Today, on 17 October 2013, the 40th anniversary of the signature of the European Patent Convention (EPC) in Munich, Germany, is being celebrated. The festivities are taking place at the Headquarters of the European Patent Office (EPO), the German Technological Museum ("Deutsches Museum") and the Munich Residenz, where the celebration ends after a concert given by the Patent Orchestra Munich. Please find the full program of the 40th anniversary, including the winners of the EPO Innovation Contest here:

40_Years_EPC

What is the EPC and what makes it so unique?

The European Patent Convention (EPC) is a multilateral treaty providing an autonomous legal system according to which European patents are granted. The term "European patent" is used to refer to patents granted under the European Patent Convention. However, a European patent is not a unitary right, but a group of essentially independent nationally-enforceable, nationally-revocable patents,subject to central revocation or narrowing as a group pursuant to two types of unified, post-grant procedures: a time-limited opposition procedure, which can be initiated by any person except the patent proprietor, and limitation and revocation procedures, which can be initiated by the patent proprietor only.

The EPC provides a legal framework for the granting of European patents,via a single, harmonised procedure before the European Patent Office (EPO). A single patent application, in one language, may be filed at the European Patent Office or at a national patent office of a Contracting State, if the national law of the State so permits.

What will the future bring?

In 2012, representatives of the EU Member States finally - after years of discussions - have decided to implement the European unitary patent. The European unitary patent will soon guarantee supranational protection for inventions in 25 countries across Europe.

The regulations entered into force on 20 January 2013. However, they will only apply from 1 January 2014 or the date of entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, whichever is the later.

For more information, please see the EPO's website: