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European patent and European Patent Convention (EPC)

By filing a single application for a European patent (an EP application) you can obtain a patent in countries which have joined the European Patent Convention (EPC). The convention has been signed by 39 states, and two states have extension agreements on the validation of EP patents. The contracting parties are called the EPC countries, or the member states of the European Patent Organisation.

EP applications are processed and EP patents are granted by the European Patent Office (EPO). After a European patent has been granted, the applicant must decide in which EPC countries they wish to have patent protection. In most countries, such as in Finland, a separate validation is required to get the protection. The applicant must also pay annual fees in any countries where the protection is maintained. Consequently, the European patent is not a supranational patent but a bundle of national patents.

The EPO’s headquarters are in Munich, and it has offices in the Hague and Berlin. It also has a patent information centre in Vienna. The European Patent Office is an independent organisation, and it is not part of the European Union (EU).

The European Patent Convention (EPC) was set up on 5 October 1973. A uniform application procedure was created through the same convention. Finland joined the EPC in 1996.

Further information:

National Law Relating to the EPCOpen link in a new tab

Finnish legislation concerning the European patent:

Printable version Latest update 14.11.2023