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European Patent Office
- This article is about the organisation. For EPO decisions, see EPO case law.
The European Patent Office (the EPO) is the primary organ of the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg). These were created by the European Patent Convention (EPC), which has 38 signatory countries.
The signatory countries include the countries of the European Union, but the EPO is not an EU institution. The EPO does not answer to the EU, and the EU has no control over the EPO.
 A troubled institution
Also in May 2009, the EPO office in Munich was surrounded by pigs and tractors in a protest against patents on biotech. (Note: This doesn't seem software related, but Richard Stallman and Hartmut Pilch both spoke there, so there must be some software link.)
 Key people
The EPO president, selected in March 2010, is Benoît Battistelli. Mr. Battistelli served as Deputy Chairman of the EPO's Administrative Council since 2006 Previous presidents were Alison Brimelow and Alain Pompidou.
David Sant also held a prominent position during the EU software patents directive.
 Democratic problems
The EPO is a strange organisation because it's membership is very similar to the members of the EU, but it was formed before the EU and is not an EU institution. This means the EU has no control over the EPO. This creates a dangerous problem because the EPO is master of interpreting patent law. They can change the meaning of patent law without having to go through the usual democratic channels for changing legislation. Further, the EPO refuses to accept suggestions in any languages other than English, German or French, so people of other languages have reduced capacity to participate in the consultations of the EPO. This also favours large enterprises who can afford translators over SMEs and individuals.
The separation of powers in European patent governance has often been questioned. As patent attorney Rob J. Aerts says "under the intergovernmental EPC system it is difficult to speak of a functional separation of powers".
 Art 52 consultation, 2008-2009
- (See EPO EBoA referral G3-08)
In October 2008, the EPO's president referred a set of questions regarding software patents to the EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal. A public consultation was held in early 2009 and there were almost one hundred briefs submitted to EPO EBoA G3-08. The decision of the EBoA, published in May 2010, was that the EBoA cannot answer this type of question. All questions were judged "inadmissible".
 2008 protest of examiners
In September 2008, patent examiners from the EPO went on strike to protest the low quality of patents being churned out by the EPO's procedures. They also published results of an informal survey showing that only 6% of patent examiners had confidence in the President of the EPO, Alison Brimelow, and her team of Vice-Presidents.
 Related pages on en.swpat.org
- Do software patents exist in my area?
- EPO does grant software patents
- UPLS - a proposal from the European Commission which would create a centralised patent court that would probably uphold the EPO's software patents
- EPO's official site: www.epo.org
- EPOrg's subpage on www.epo.org
- 2009 pamphlet: Patents for Software?
- October 2008 EPO PR: President of the EPO asks for clarification of exclusion
- CII e-learning module 1 (Gnash or other flash player required)
- CII e-learning module 2 (Gnash or other flash player required)
 Third party
- Is the demand for patents stifling reform?, May 2009 article about hesitations regarding expanding patent system cooperation
- The Political Legacy Of Ms Alison Brimelow, March 2010
- EPO case law is not binding to member states, 2006 statement from the European Commission (see FFII's reaction)
- Computer Implemented Inventions in Europe, An Update, 1 Sep 2010, IPEG
- Kober's Directive: EPO President authorises patents on computer programs and business methods, 2001, FFII
 Wikipedia pages
- European Patent Office
- European Patent Organisation
- Appeal procedure before the European Patent Office - about the Boards of Appeal, Enlarged Board of Appeal, etc.
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