Patent Examiner (Europe)

I want to know

where they work

Show me ideas people in this role

What do they do?

Where do they work?

What do they earn?

How many are there?

What do I need to be one?

What’s the training?

Best bit:

Worst bits:

How do I apply?

What do they do?

A patent examiner who works at the European Patent Office (EPO) perfoms a similar job to a patent examiner who works at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). The obvious difference is that they’re dealing with patents that may enable someone to protect their ideas across Europe, whereas UK IPO examiners deal with patents that seek to protect an idea in the UK only.

Where do they work?

The European Patent Office’s main locations are Munich (in Germany) and The Hague (in the Netherlands).

What do they earn?

The monthly salary for a European Patent Office examiner currently ranges from around €55,000 to around €78,000, depending on the examiner’s experience level.  Examiners may receive other benefits, such as a relocation allowance and 30 days of annual leave.  More information about the salary and benefits can be found here.

How many are there?

Currently, there are approximately 4000 patent examiners working at the EPO.  Companies all over the world are increasingly interested in obtaining European patents for their inventions, and so the EPO is seeking to recruit more engineers and scientists to match the demand.  Current vacancies can be found here.

What do I need to be one?

Generally speaking, you’ll need the same skills as a UK IPO patent examiner with the obvious additional requirement that you’ll need really excellent language skills in at least one of the three official languages of the EPO – English, French, German – and you’ll need to understand the other two well.

Specifically, to become an EPO examiner you need the following:

  • Citizenship of one of the member states of the European Patent Organisation.
  • A university degree in, for example, physics, chemistry, engineering or natural sciences.
  • An excellent knowledge of one official language (English, French and German) and the ability to understand the other two.
  • A genuine interest in technology, an eye for detail and an analytical mind!

More information about the requirements can be found here.

Did you know?

The song ‘White Christmas’ was written by Irving Berlin in 1942. It is thought to be the world’s most valuable music copyright.

What’s the training?

When you start the job, you spend the first two years in a special training programme for new examiners.  After that, the training is on the job, with one-to-one supervision from an experienced examiner. For the first two years, the ongoing programme of training continues and even after that you need to keep improving your skills and staying up to date. The career path to becoming a senior patent examiner is clearly structured and involves regular legal, technical and skills training.

Details about the training programme can be found on the EPO’s website here.

Best bit:

Helping people get their ideas protected is quite a buzz and it involves being at the cutting edge of developments in your field.

Worst bits:

When a new patent application lands on your desk, you need to get your head around it fast, understanding it well enough to judge its innovation and reviewing the scientific literature. That would be challenge enough, but the technology and law are constantly changing, so even when you’re trained, you can’t stop learning and adapting.

How do I apply?

Jobs vacancies are posted on the EPO website.