Next stop: EPO Munich

Walking through the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), you could be forgiven for thinking you’re on a short trip around Europe. The meeting rooms are named after cities, such as Paris, Geneva and The Hague. But there’s more to the names of these gathering spots than just destinations for upcoming holidays. For example, the city of Munich has been a high-tech location and home to the European Patent Organisation’s headquarters since the mid-20th century

The European Patent Office in Munich
In addition to the European Patent Office in Munich (photo), the EPO also operates in The Hague, Berlin and Vienna. (Photo: iStock / StreetFlash)

Munich is a cosmopolitan city – just like Paris, Madrid and Geneva, the previous locations in our current IP cities series. It is seen as a centre for culture, politics, science and the media. The most densely populated settlement in Germany is considered one of the most important anchors of intellectual property in Europe. It is home to the European Patent Office (EPO), which was founded in 1977 based on the European Patent Convention (EPC). This agreement was signed in Munich four years previously. 


The European Patent Office is one of the two bodies that make up the European Patent Organisation. It grants high-quality patents, and its services promote innovation, competitiveness and economic growth at the international level. As well as its headquarters in Munich, the EPO also has subsidiaries in The Hague, Berlin and Vienna. The 39 member states of this intergovernmental body include Switzerland, Norway and Turkey, as well as all the countries in the European Union and several other European states.


The European Patent Convention governs patent applications, examinations and grants in Europe. Ever since it came into force in 1977, it has been possible to obtain a patent from the EPO that is valid in all selected member states with one single application. The EPO can grant a patent that is effective in all the member states requested by the applicant. The first patent application was filed on 1 June 1978.


The second body of the European Patent Organisation is the Administrative Council, which supervises the activities of the European Patent Office. In March 2021, Director General of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) Catherine Chammartin was unanimously elected as a member of the Board of the Administrative Council. Since then, she has collaborated with the other members of the eight-person Board to prepare the work programme of the Administrative Council.

Back to all blog articles

Share article