EPO European Patent Offices
To assist our clients, twice a year we publish a guide to flights from the UK to the three main European Patent Offices in Germany and Holland. It also contains updated info on airfares, airport and hotel or anything we feel might be relevant or new. This is also a handy document for planning your trip and to have with you if the hearing or appeal ends quickly, or extends later than anticipated. This can be downloaded from our ‘home page’. This has been suspected in the epidemic while the EPOs are holding Video Hearings. As you will note, we also have specific information pages on each EPO.
Flight bookings – We are able to make flight reservations without commitment for a limited time depending on the fare type. Most clients travel on BA’s ‘Semi-Flex’ fares with rules that are especially convenient for those attending a hearing/ appeal and good value, you do not need to buy Business Class tickets to achieve flexibility. This fare type is a great way of reducing costs but keeping the booking flexible, they are in Economy Class and include checked luggage. Once you confirm that a ticket should be issued, we will bill your accounts department directly, so no faffing around with credit cards etc.
Semi-Flex Rules – We can usually hold a booking provisionally for 72 hours, within that time it can be amended or cancelled. Once issued there are no refunds permitted.
The really good bit – On the same day of travel changes are free, subject to availability. As long as there is a seat in Economy Class you can have it for no charge, we do not have to review what fare is available compared with what you have already paid.
Also permitted are changes not on the same day of travel and also the ability to change the flight date, but in these cases, you then do have to pay a penalty fee (min £120) plus any difference between the ticket you are holding and the flight you wish to change to. Even in these scenarios, semi-flex tickets are generally still cheaper than paying the top-tier most flexible tickets in the first place. Please note you cannot however change any of the airports, so when at The Hague there is no swapping the return from Rotterdam to Amsterdam.
Book through us and you’re not on your own, you can call us to change your e-ticket if your plans change, or at times of stress, such as with flight cancellations; fog; strikes; civil unrest, pandemics, snow, ash clouds. While away it is very easy to feel isolated and ill-informed as to what is going on, but we are experienced and your friendly help in these potentially stressful situations.
…Incidentally, this would have been my last trip to Oral Proceedings at the EPO, as I am retiring at the end of January. Please can I take the opportunity to thank you and the rest of your office for all the help you have given me over many years – you have certainly reduced the stress levels on what can be fraught occasions when attending Oral Proceedings…
See our EPO Newsletter for this season’s flight schedules from the eight UK airports to Munich. Whether you are attending a hearing at the New EPO in The PschorrHöfe or Isar buildings, or an appeal at Haar*, we can assist you in finding the most convenient hotel. We are very familiar with Munich and have visited it on numerous occasions, although probably a lot less than most of our clients.
Trade fairs and Oktoberfest can mean accommodation in Munich can be difficult to find and very expensive too. We can help locate rooms and offer alternatives to the usual hotels if they have high and in many cases very restrictive rates (pre-payment with no changes/refunds permitted).
*EPO Boards of Appeal, Haar
As many of you will be aware, appeals have moved from the old German Patent Office to the suburb of Haar, 22 km to the east of Munich. The EPO Boards of Appeal building is located 5 mins walk (1 km) from Haar S-Bahn Station. This makes commuting from the Holiday Inn or Hilton near Rosenheim Platz simple, as the train journey is 15 mins (6 stations) and requires no changes, alternatively it is about 25 mins by taxi. There are a number of small and simple non-chain hotels in and near to Haar, but most are tourist grade or motel style and do not compare with the four start establishments most of our clients stayed in back near the river in Munich. The nearest hotel of a quality that we feel would be acceptable (with a decent desk and meeting rooms) is a three-star hotel, this is 20 mins walk or 5 mins by taxi to the Appeals Building, also about 30 mins by taxi from the airport.
NOTE – in January 2022, the EPO advised that the Appeals Board will return to the Munich City Centre sometime in 2025/26.
This EPO is situated in a suburb of The Hague in a town called Rijswijk and not in the city itself. As the EPO is located adjacent to a motorway, Rotterdam Airport (RTM) is actually the quickest airport to get to or from. However, there are presently only limited services from London and it doesn’t have as many flight options to get you home after your hearing as does Amsterdam, so not quite as convenient. In addition, the taxi fare from the EPO to Rotterdam Airport is around EURO 60-70+.
The alternative is Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where the railway station is situated directly below the terminal, with escalators to the platforms that come directly off the main airport concourse. There are frequent rail services to The Hague Station/ Den Haag HS, with a journey time of about 30 mins. At that point you can either take a taxi or tram to Rijswijk, the journey time is about 20 mins or in the rush hour 30 mins. The alternative is to change trains at The Hague/ Den Haag HS for a frequent local suburban service which takes 10 mins to get to Rijswijk Station. The Best Western Grand Winston Hotel is located in the square opposite the station.
There are a couple of hotels in Rijswijk, but it is a very quiet town, especially in the evening when generally no restaurants or cafes are open. Alternatives are in The Hague itself which has plenty of dining options, especially in the old town, or at one of a number of small B&Bs in the charming Delft.
Alternative hotels to the most popular Best Western Plus Grand Winston in Rijswijk
- Rijswijk– Equi-distant to and located on the other side of the EPO building is The Hotel & Spa Savarine. A low-level hotel with pleasant grounds, a health club, a good restaurant and is close to the AutoRoute’s on/ off-ramp. They offer a scheduled shuttle service to the EPO for around Euro 5 /person/ way and it takes 8 mins, alternatively, you can walk for 2 mins, then catch the tram which takes 5-10mins to get to the EPO. The hotel is about 10 mins by tram from Rijswijk Railway Station.
- The Hague city centre– in the vibrant centre of the old town, is the historic Goude Hooft dating back to 1423. It’s now a super-exclusive hotel and restaurant, with only 8 suites and a B&B basis. Lots of suite options, one is set over 3 floors, with the lounge & kitchen sandwiched between the two separated bedrooms above & below. Interesting if you need a hotel room and a meeting space? Generally, those clients of ours that want to be in The Hague will stay at the City Hilton which has a good vibrant location in the old part of town.
Normally from St Pancras services operate twice daily to Rotterdam and onwards to Amsterdam Centraal Station, in both the morning and evening. For many years this has been an outbound-only service, but now the trains are starting in Holland rather than Brussels on the return leg and with a late departure can now accommodate most hearings/ appeals. We can book a train, hotel and flights for you.
NOTE – Services are presently in limbo due to the epidemic.
The Berlin EPO is not in the most desirable part of the city. We can therefore advise you of availability and prices of hotels in the historic East Central; high tech Potsdam, or vibrant West Central Districts. Our EPO info sheet lists the various options and this season’s flight schedules.
In 2020, after a decade of construction delays, Berlin Brandenberg (BER) Airport opened. This is about 30-45 mins from the city centre built on the edge of the former Schoenfeld Airport which has closed, as has Templehof and Tegel Airports. The rail time should later on be reduced from the present 30 to 20 mins.