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Who can apply for a European patent?

Both, a company or an individual can apply for a European Patent. Either will have to confirm that they own the invention to be granted a patent.

An application for a European Patent can be made directly by you, or you can authorise a European Patent Attorney to make the application on your behalf. European Patent Attorneys are professionally qualified people who are experienced in dealing with the EPO and the application procedure

If you do not have either a residence or a principal place of business in one of the member countries of the European Patent Convention - EPC, you must be represented by a European Patent Attorney throughout the application procedure, except for the initial filing of the application.

The 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.

Note that the number of EPC member countries is higher than the number of European Union member countries.

Six other countries in Eastern Europe can also be added as Extension States.

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