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What after filling European patent?

Within 18 months from the priority date (that is, six months from filing the European application), the application will be published.

A search report will be issued listing documents which may be relevant to the patentability of the invention to which your application relates. This will either be published with the application if issued in time or published later.

Within six months from the publication of the search report, the countries you wish to proceed in must be confirmed by paying a fee. After this, it is not possible to add to the chosen countries, but one or more can be abandoned if you wish.

Also within six months, a fee must be paid with a request for examination. During the examination that follows, the European Patent Office may write to you (or your authorised European Patent Attorney, if you have one) giving reasons why the invention is not new or inventive or objecting to formal aspects of the application. A time limit for reply is set, giving you the opportunity to try to persuade the European Patent Office that the invention is worthy of a patent and the application is allowable. The description of the invention or the claims may be amended before agreement is reached; this can take time and involve further communication with the European Patent Office.

When the EPO agrees that your invention is patentable, your patent will be granted.

You will be required at this stage to pay further fees and to provide a translation of the claims into French and German. Also, the full text must be translated into all the various languages of the countries in which you wish the patent to take effect, and the translations filed at the respective national patent offices. This is usually very expensive, perhaps costing many thousands of USD.

Within nine months of grant, the patent may be opposed at the European Patent Office by any other person. Should the patent be opposed, it is possible to defend your patent by entering into opposition proceedings.

Renewal fees need to be paid while the application is pending, to keep it alive. The first renewal fee is due two years after filing the European Patent Application, and subsequent renewal fees are due annually.

Once the EP has been granted, it effectively splits into a group of separate national patent rights. Annual renewal fees will need to be paid in each chosen country to keep the national patent rights in force. You can choose to let your patent rights lapse in one or more of the chosen countries without affecting the patent rights remaining in other countries.

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