Choosing a European patent attorney: does the Iron Curtain still exist?


Michael Lantos

Old habits die hard. But Michael Lantos argues that the time has come to look to new European Union members for legal representation.

It is not the objective of the author to provoke readers, but to share facts and statistics to demonstrate that in over 20 years since the destruction of the ‘Iron Curtain’, more than seven years after the enlargement of the EU and over eight years after most of the former Eastern European countries joined the European Patent Convention (EPC), applicants from the European Patent Convention residing outside the member states predominantly use representatives from the founding countries of the European Patent Convention.

Currently, there are slightly more than 11,000 patent attorneys who have the right to represent clients before the European Patent Office and who have the required EPI (European Patent Institute—the bar of European patent attorneys) membership, and more than 3,000 (over 25 percent) of them come from countries of the former Eastern Bloc.

More than half of the applicants of the European Patent System are from overseas countries (i.e. are not member of the convention), and according to the current rules, they must be represented by a European Patent Attorney residing in one of the member countries. But only a small fraction of them (less than 5 percent) are represented by patent attorneys from Eastern European countries.

patent attorneys, EPC, EPI, HIPO