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European Patent

link to the european patent office

is an essential step towards the integration of the worldwide unified patent system. With one unique European patent (EP) application, drafted in only one official language (English, French or German) and filed in one filing office, the steps of the grant procedure (publication and examination of the application) can be unified. Once granted by the European Patent Office ( EPO ), the EP becomes a bundle of national patents in accordance with the designations chosen by the Applicant at the filing date.

The aim is to make the protection of inventions in the member countries cheaper and more reliable by creating a single procedure for the grant of patents.

European Patent Convention (EPC) member countries (October, 2002) are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria , Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, Switzerland (incl. Liechtenstein), United Kingdom.

Albania, Lithuania, Latvia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania can also be added as Extension States.

Why European Patent?

The cost of translating the EP application into each of the languages of the chosen member countries is deferred until grant of the patent has been obtained.

Simpler administration because the application passes through a single search and examination process in English.

Single grant fee is payable to the EPO.

Significant cost savings if three or more member countries are chosen.
  Within 9 months from grant of the Patent third parties can file opposition at the EPO. If the opposition results in the patent being refused or restricted in scope, this is effective in all of the member countries chosen.

FAQ about European Patents

Do I need a attorney to file a EP application?
An application for a EP can be made directly by you, or you can authorise a European Patent Attorney to make the application on your behalf. However, those who are not residents in a member country must appoint a qualified representative in one of the member countries... Read more about applying for European Patent.

Do I need only one patent for all of the member countries?
The EPC allows an applicant to file at the EPO a single application, in English, indicating which of the member countries the application is intended to cover. The application passes through centralised search and examination stages but, upon grant, is converted into a national patent in each of the member countries originally indicated on filing of the application.

Grant Procedure
Following notification of the official grant date from the EPO, the applicant has a three month period within which to confirm the member countries in which the patent is to have effect. These countries must be chosen from the list originally indicated on filing.

Within this three month period a translation of the patent is filed at the national office of each chosen member country and a representative is appointed in that country to oversee the national procedure. Read more about grant procedure of European Patent.

A EP lasts for a maximum period of 20 years from the filing date of the application. Maintenance fees are due on the application annually from the 2nd anniversary of the filing date. Following grant of the patent, annual renewal fees are due on each of the resulting national patents.
The most frequenty asked question: How much EP costs?
Please read approximately costs of European Patent
Piperpat (link outside this site)