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The European Patent Organisation continues its dynamic growth. With the accession of Lithuania to the European Patent Convention, the Organisation now has 30 member states. Moreover, an agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina has entered into force, allowing applicants to extend their patent applications and patents to that country, which has observer status in the Organisation. European patents are now valid in 36 European states, covering a market of more than 560 million inhabitants.

Lithuania joins the European Patent Organisation as the 30th member state

Munich, 3 December 2004 -- The European Patent Organisation continues its dynamic growth. With the accession of Lithuania to the European Patent Convention, the Organisation now has 30 member states. Moreover, an agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina has entered into force, allowing applicants to extend their patent applications and patents to that country, which has observer status in the Organisation. European patents are now valid in 36 European states, covering a market of more than 560 million inhabitants.

With its continued expansion, the European patent system is the most dynamic regional patent system in the world. According to the President of the European Patent Office, Professor Alain Pompidou: “The expansion is not only an important contribution to the European integration process. It also underlines the role patents play in the European economy”.

With the accession of Poland and Iceland to the EPC, as well as the extension agreements with Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro concluded earlier this year, the geographical scope of protection for European patents has again grown significantly in 2004. For the European Union’s “Lisbon strategy”, which aims at turning Europe into the most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2010, the patent system is of paramount importance. In the words of Mr Pompidou: “The role of the patent system is to facilitate the flow from knowledge to innovation and from innovation to the creation of economic value. The EPO’s role is to effectively manage this process. The growing number of member and extension states testifies to the demand for patent protection in Europe, and the attractiveness of the European patent system”.

With Latvia, Malta and Norway, further countries are set to join the European Patent Organisation in the foreseeable future.

For further information please contact:
European Patent Office
Communication Department
Rainer Osterwalder - Press Officer
80298 Munich

Phone: +4989/2399-5012
Fax: +4989/2399-2850
e-mail: press@epo.org

http://www.european-patent-office.org/news/pressrel/2004_12_03_e.htm