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 at the four sites. Approximately 50% of the staff of the respective sites are members.

Because SUEPO effectively has four working languages (English, French, German and Dutch in The Hague) it also has French (Union Syndicale de l'Office Européen des Brevets -USOEB) and German (Internationale Gewerkschaft im Europäischen Patentamt - IGEPA) names. All employees of the EPO are free to become members 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 interests

In the 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 remuneration, but also a wide range of everyday aspects of working conditions at the EPO, such as working time, working pressure and ergonomics.

Unlike Labour Law in national civil services, the rules dictating employment conditions and rights at the EPO are determined by the Office's Administrative Council, a group of national representatives who oversee the running of the Office. These rules and rights in turn are set down in an internal Codex. The result is that a wide range of aspects of labour law normally regulated by national parliaments is determined by an organ with 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 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 institutions of the European Union as well as in other European and international organisations.

We also represent the 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 citizens must be better informed of the functioning and the relevance of patents.