European Patent Organisation (EPO)

The European Patent Organisation (EPO) is an intergovernmental body. It strengthens European cooperation in the area of protection of inventions: applicants are simultaneously granted patent protection in all designated contracting states when they file a single application with the European Patent Office.


The EPO was set up in 1977 on the basis of the European Patent Convention (EPC). It currently comprises 38 member states, including EU countries, EFTA states, Switzerland and Turkey. The EPO is responsible for the administration and development of the EPC.

The EPC governs the granting of European patents. The application and granting procedures are managed centrally by the European Patent Office. Once it has been granted, the European Patent becomes a bundle of independent national patents. Conversely, patent protection with unitary effect can be applied for in EU countries that participate in the EU unitary patent system.

The harmonised patent system sets important framework conditions for innovation and competitiveness of the European economic area.

Switzerland is one of the founding members of the EPO. It plays an active role in developing the EPC by advocating an efficient grant procedure and high-quality patents. The IPI represents Switzerland in the Administrative Council and committees of the EPO.