Law Departments (2021/2022)

Check out the departments which are participating in the Pan-European Seal Programme 2021/2022 and let us know your preference when applying:

Data Protection Office
This department provides all business units with guidance, recommendations and support to ensure compliance and accountability under the EPO's privacy and data protection rules and requirements.
In your role as trainee, you will have a unique opportunity to gain expertise in the area of data protection by supporting the process of developing and formally adopting a new legal framework for data protection at the EPO, as well as by participating in its implementation.

Procedural Support
This department supports all examination business areas by providing analysis of proposed legal, procedural or system changes and advising on any procedural issues and questions. As a trainee, you will prepare presentations on legal and procedural topics and perform case studies and data analysis on systematic problems.

Team Central Formalities – Mobility and Mechatronics
The Team Central Formalities unit within the Mechanics and Mechatronics sector delivers procedural support for advanced patent grant and opposition procedures, harmonises opposition practices and provides analysis and guidance for patent examiners in relation to procedural quality and efficiency. In your role as trainee, you will assist the team in dealing with aspects of patent law, cases involving re‑establishment of rights and corrections.

Team Central Formalities – Healthcare, Biotechnology, Chemistry
The Team Central Formalities unit within the Healthcare, Biotechnology and Chemistry sector delivers procedural support for advanced patent grant and opposition procedures, harmonises opposition practices and provides analysis and guidance for patent examiners in relation to procedural quality and efficiency. As a trainee in this unit, you will be involved in preparing legal and procedural information on a variety of topics including the opposition procedure.

Individual, Compensation and Benefits Employment Law Matters
This department gives advice on employment law to EPO management and HR departments while fostering a cultural shift away from traditional litigation towards problem-solving through dialogue. It represents the EPO before the Appeals Committee in internal appeal cases and before the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization in cases resulting from complaints filed there. Your role as trainee will be to carry out legal research and draw up legal opinions.

Collective Employment Law Matters and Social Dialogue
This department supports the EPO's shift away from a culture of litigation by advising management on social dialogue. In your role as trainee, you will carry out legal research and draw up legal opinions.

Expat and Social Services
The Expat and Social Services department supports the integration of (new) staff and their family members into the local environment through a variety of administrative and social activities.
In your role as trainee, you will assist on ongoing projects such as the review of the education and childcare benefits.

IT Co-operation
This unit ensures that the national offices of the EPO's member states are equipped with the modern IT tools they need for their patent granting work. Its activities also cover all IT and data areas involving the EPO and patent offices around the world. Your role as trainee will be to design, write, edit and co-ordinate content across various channels, including the EPO's intranet, presentations, reports and promotional material. Also, you will be involved in the digitisation of IP processes.

CTO Office
CTO Office advises and supports the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Technology Officer in areas related to business information technology, internal communication, overall vision and roadmapping.
You will assist on a number of projects to:

  • analyse the issues and opportunities involved in embracing, handling and searching new digital knowledge
  • analyse the different formats of patent application documents from different patent offices and identify systematic "text divergence" linked to patent law requirements
  • study the impact of the "right to be forgotten" and GDPR on the use of blockchain and machine‑learning training data
  • study applicant usage and the consequences of implementing new processes on IT systems. 

European and International Legal Affairs, PCT
This directorate contributes to the Office's overall strategy and supports key policy projects by developing, enhancing and promoting the legal framework of the European and international patent system, including the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). In your role as trainee, you will assist the team in performing legislative work, drafting agreements and providing legal advice to EPO management, operations and users.

Contract Law and Litigation
This unit is responsible for safeguarding and defending the legal interests and assets of the EPO. It provides legal advice and support in a number of areas: risk management, procurement support, vendor management support, contract models, awareness raising and litigation.
Your role as a trainee will be to provide support in drafting and legal research.

Patent Law
This directorate supports EPO policy and work by developing, strengthening and promoting the European Patent Convention and the patent system in general. In your role as trainee, you will work mainly on the patent grant procedure and patent granting practice – drafting communications and decisions in individual cases, drawing up policy documents and proposals to amend the law and practice, and conducting research on patent law-related matters, in particular into case law and legal literature.

Institutional Affairs, Legal and Unitary Patent Division
This unit is concerned with providing legal advice on amending EPO internal regulations, institutional and procedural reforms, applying the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities (PPI), drawing up legal texts and resolving legal disputes and dealing with matters relating to the European Patent Register. As a trainee, you will be involved in general legal affairs and supporting the modernisation of the Organisation's external governance.

Patent Academy and EQE
The Patent Academy and EQE directorate provides a central hub for the sharing of expertise and the development of knowledge, and co-ordinates the external training activities of the EPO, providing framework, methodologies and platform. As this directorate's trainee, you will be involved in areas such as technology transfer education and the development of the international patent law programme.

European Qualifying Examination
This department is in charge of the European qualifying examination (EQE). The EQE is designed to establish whether a candidate has the required aptitude and knowledge to represent applicants before the EPO. The EQE has recently undergone a major change and will be held online – as the e-EQE – for the first time in 2021. Your role in this department will be to assist in the implementation of the e-EQE by processing candidate requests for registration and enrolment as well as by drafting "appealable" decisions in the registration process.

IP Programme
The European Patent Academy's IP Programme department is responsible for developing training on patent-related IP practice for all external stakeholders across the European patent system.
Working with two programme managers in the areas of judicial training and academia, you will assist with the development of training programmes and courses for our stakeholders, requiring an understanding of legal concepts and the ability to work with them.

Liaison Office
This unit represents the EPO's interests by positioning EPO leadership and expertise on patents and innovation, and by informing and advising the EPO on relevant EU policy and political issues. It develops and maintains a network of contacts within the European institutions. In your role as trainee, you will be involved in the daily operation of the unit.