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Legal and International affairs

In Directorate-General 5 Legal and International Affairs (DG 5), our legal and technical experts are committed to safeguarding and strengthening the legal framework of the European Patent Organisation and the patent system in general. They foster and support European and international co-operation, patent-related training, and the spread of patent information and knowledge around the world.

Our mission is to:

  • promote, strengthen and co-ordinate international affairs
  • safeguard and strengthen the legal framework of the European Patent Organisation and the patent system in general
  • foster and support external patent-related training
  • develop and promote a range of high-level patent information products and patent knowledge services for use around the world

We achieve our mission by:

  • providing competent, timely and reliable support and advice in a proactive, constructive and service-minded manner
  • fostering co-operation and training, and sharing patent knowledge with all external stakeholders
  • creating long-lasting relationships based on trust

In DG 5 we pride ourselves on the dedicated contribution we make to the mission of the organisation and the implementation of the EPO's Strategic Plan 2023 (SP2023). As a team we are happy to go the extra mile to ensure the EPO remains at the forefront of the IP world. Our highly qualified and talented staff are encouraged to take on challenging tasks and projects and to take responsibility and ownership of the work we do. We promote excellence and foster continued professional development by applying the principles of diversity and inclusion.

Our teams

Vice-President DG 5 (Legal and International Affairs)
The Vice-President DG 5 (VP 5) supports the President of the EPO in performing his management duties by providing advice on legal and international co-operation matters, and may be nominated by the President to represent him in DG 5's fields of competence. The Vice President manages Directorate General 5 (Legal and International Affairs) of the EPO,  consisting of some 260 employees working in Munich, Vienna and The Hague in four principal directorates and the Council Secretariat. His duties include liaising with the EPO's other vice-presidents and with external bodies and stakeholders within and outside the European Patent Organisation.

D 5.0.1 Council Secretariat
The Council Secretariat is placed at the disposal of the Administrative Council to enable it to carry out its duties. It is responsible for organising and co-ordinating all meetings of the Council and its bodies. Reporting direct to VP 5, it benefits from greater access to DG 5's legal expertise, strengthening its role as a support service for the Council.

5.0.2 Performance and Process Office
The newly created Performance and Process Office supports DG5 in achieving the desired operational objectives and outcomes of organisational changes, working closely with the relevant internal business units and other areas within the Office, such as BIT, Finance and HR.

PD 5.1 (European and International Affairs)
Principal Directorate European and International Affairs has overall responsibility for all co‑operation activities at the EPO. It acts as the EPO's first point of contact for national IP offices worldwide, international IP authorities, such as the EUIPO and WIPO, as well as European and international organisations (IOs), national authorities and patent system users.

The principal directorate's activities contribute to the EPO's key aim of building a European patent system and network with a global impact. Through its co‑operation projects and partnerships, the principal directorate works to strengthen the European Patent Network (EPN), contributing to the dissemination of common European standards internationally.

The principal directorate comprises three regional desks: Member States and Neighbouring Countries; IP5, IOs and Global Users; and the Americas, Africa and ASEAN, as well as an External Relations Support Team.

PD 5.2 (Legal Affairs)
Principal Directorate Legal Affairs provides legal analysis, assistance and advice in legal matters with a strategic, policy, institutional or external dimension. It comprises two directorates.

Directorate Patent Developments and IP Lab  monitors IP trends and proposes strategic or policy orientations for shaping the international and European legal framework in the field of patents and neighbouring areas of law and practice.

Directorate Institutional and Contract Law enables DG5 to serve as the Office’s legal counsel, facilitating sound and efficient governance both externally and internally. Similarly, it prepares the provision of legal support and advice to the Administrative Council, its subsidiary bodies and respective chairpersons. It monitors the external, institutional affairs of the EPO as an international organisation.

PD 5.3 (Patent Law and Processes)
Principal Directorate Patent Law and Procedures covers all operational legal activities related to the patent granting process (PGP) to facilitate alignment, collaboration and service-orientation. The Principal Directorate comprises two directorates.

Directorate Patent Law and Processes ensures the correct application of European patent law and the PCT, while aligning the Office's operations with the relevant patent law standards in matters of practice and procedure relating to the European Patent Convention and PCT. It ensures a high-quality, harmonised patent granting process by monitoring the Boards of Appeal and Unitary Patent Court case law, assessing their impact and implementing changes.

Directorate Procedural Guidance and Registers ensures the transparency and reliability of the patent granting process by administering and developing the European Patent Register, the database of professional representatives and the Office’s Unitary Patent-related operational tasks and support the digital transformation of these processes.

PD 5.4 (Patent Intelligence)
Providing patent information to the public is an inherent element of a patent system and at the heart of the mission of the EPO's Principal Directorate Patent Intelligence. This Principal Directorate combines the experience and expertise of the European Patent Academy with the EQE administration and certification and patent knowledge areas in one unit. The PD delivers high-quality educational programmes and outreach, helping the EPO forge new standards of excellence in the dissemination of IP knowledge. This includes delivering training and certification programmes to IP professionals, national patent offices (NPOs) in member and non-member states, academia, partnering organisations and institutions. The PD comprises three directorates.

Directorate Patent Academy is responsible for planning, managing, promoting and implementing the EPO's external learning products and training-related services in line with the Patent Academy Blueprint. It also manages and develops the PATLIB network and related initiatives, such as Knowledge Transfer to Africa. It provides an important contribution to EPO activities in accordance with its co-operation strategy, including initiatives such as the Academic Research Programme.

Directorate Knowledge is responsible for managing data products and planning, promoting and implementing patent information products and services along the strategic orientations of the Office. The directorate focuses on value extraction from data and transforms data and information products into impactful intelligence guiding research, business and innovation as well as public institutions and society as a whole.

Directorate Certifications and Official Publications is responsible for the co-ordination and quality assurance of legal text production for publication, including the European Patent Bulletin, the European Patent Register, EPO legal text publications and the Official Journal. The directorate also plans, manages, promotes and implements the external examination and certification products and related initiatives of the Office, including EPAC, EQE and the forthcoming Patent Information Certificate.