European patent office

European patent office
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The European Patent Office (EPO or EPOff in order to distinguish it from the European Patent Organisation) grants European patents for the Member States of the European Patent Convention. The EPO provides a single patent grant procedure, but not yet a single patent from the point of view of enforcement. Hence the patents granted are not European Community patents or even Europe-wide patents, but a bundle of national patents.

The European Patent Office is not a legal entity as such, but an organ of the European Patent Organisation, which has a legal personality.

The EPOff headquarters are located at Munich, Germany. The European Patent Office also includes a branch in Rijswijk (a suburb of The Hague, Netherlands), sub-offices in Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria and a "liaison bureau" in Brussels, Belgium. At the end of 2006, the European Patent Office had a staff of 6319 (with about 3400 based in Munich, 2500 in Rijswijk, 300 in Berlin and 120 in Vienna).