Revision of the European Patent Convention

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Revision of the European Patent Convention (EPC), November 2000

The European Patent Convention (EPC) is an intergovernmental agreement, signed in Munich in 1973, to regulate the European patent system. By creating a single patent procedure based on a uniform body of substantive patent law, the Convention seeks to make the patenting of inventions in its’ contracting states easier, cheaper and more reliable. The resultant patent is, in effect, a bundle of national Patents obtained using a single application and grant procedure.
The EPC established the European Patent Organisation which comprises the European Patent Office (EPO) and it’s Administrative Council (AC). The AC comprises representatives from each of the EPC contracting states and has a supervisory role with respect to the EPO. The EPO is responsible for the granting of European Patents and its President is responsible for day-to-day management of its business. From 1 July 2002, the EPC will have 24 contracting states. These are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and UK.

In November 2000, a Diplomatic Conference of the European Patent Organisation adopted a revised text of the EPC. This was the first major revision of the Convention since its inauguration in 1973 and incorporated a number of major changes. The goals of these changes were to simplify and streamline the EPC to be more responsive to the needs of users and to provide a more efficient mechanism to update the EPC to conform to international patent related Treaties and EU legislation.



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