About us

SUEPO, a union in the patent world

SUEPO stands for Staff Union of the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO has sites in Berlin, Munich, The Hague and Vienna. Likewise SUEPO is made up of four local sections in Berlin, Munich, The Hague and Vienna that consistently have about 50% of the staff of the respective sites as member.

Because SUEPO, effectively has four working languages (English, French, German and Dutch in The Hague) it also has a name in French (Union Syndicale de l'Office Européen des Brevets -USOEB) and in German (Internationale Gewerkschaft im Europäischen Patentamt - IGEPA). All employees of the EPO can become member of SUEPO, since the fundamental right of "freedom of association" is guaranteed by the EPO-Codex for every employee.

Since 1969

Just as the EPO evolved from the Institut International des Brevets (IIB), SUEPO was born in 1979 out of the Syndicat du Personnel de l'Institut International des Brevets (SP-IIB) which was founded in 1969.

We represent staff interest

In a first instance SUEPO represents the interests of EPO staff in general and those of its members in particular.

SUEPO takes particular care to maintain acceptable working conditions for the Staff of the European Patent Office. This concerns not only the remuneration of the EPO staff, but a wide range of everyday aspects of working conditions at the EPO, such as working time, working pressure and ergonomics.

Unlike similar categories of employees in the national public administration or in private industry, the working conditions of the Staff of the European Patent Office are determined by the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation. The result is that a wide range of aspects of labour law normally regulated by national parliaments, is determined by an Administrative Council, which has only limited accountability, be it only because of the fact that the supervision of the functioning of the Administrative Council is the responsibility of the 19 parliaments of the Contracting States.

The result is that the Staff Union of the EPO is involved with issues which go beyond the scope of activities that are normally the work of Staff Unions at a national level.

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office is affiliated to the Union Syndicale Fédérale, which is a federation of staff unions which are active in the European Union institutions as well as in other European and international organisations.

We also represent public interest

Why?, you may ask. There are a number of reasons:

Public interest is our interest. The keyword is innovation. Innovation is the driving force behind the European economy and provides employment for our members.

We are in the best position to do it. Patenting is a complex issue and the average citizen is largely unaware of the functioning or the relevance of patents.