A European patent application allows you to seek patent protection in the member states of the European Patent Convention (EPC). The application is processed centrally as a single European patent application. The patent is also granted as a single European Patent. Once granted the European patent can be:
(i) converted into separate national patents in the countries of interest to you, which then gives you the same rights as if the application had been filed directly in that European state, and/or
(ii) for those states which are part of the unitary (EU) patent system at the date of grant, be converted into an EU (unitary) patent, which provides a single EU patent covering those states.
The list of member states covered by a European patent application can be found at https://www.epo.org/about-us/foundation/member-states.html.
The list of states which are part of the unitary patent can be found at https://www.epo.org/applying/european/unitary/unitary-patent.html.
If you are interested in protecting your invention in multiple European states, the European patent application procedure reduces costs considerably. We are happy to advise on the best strategy for protecting your invention in Europe and to discuss costs in more detail on request.
A European patent application is filed with the European Patent Office (EPO). A few months after filing, the EPO will issue a Search Report identifying any documents that they consider to be relevant to the patentability of your invention. Enclosed with the Search Report will be a Search Opinion providing an opinion on whether your invention is novel and inventive. The European patent application will be published by the EPO 18 months from the filing date. The application is published with the search report if this is available, or the search report is published later. Once the application is published together with the search report, we have 6 months to file a request for examination of your application, pay designation fees for the designated member states and file a response to the Search Opinion. We can review any cited documents and will work with you to prepare and file amendments and/or arguments in support of your application. Further examination reports may be issued and we will be given further opportunities to respond and arrive at a set of claims to best protect your invention and to satisfy the EPO that the requirements to obtain a granted patent are met.
Once the EPO decides to grant a European Patent we will receive an official notification that the application has been accepted for grant. We will be invited to pay the appropriate fees and file translations of the claims into French and German. Once these requirements are met, the EPO will issue a “Decision to Grant”.
If proceeding with option (i) we will then need to validate the European Patent in each of the countries in which you wish to seek protection. There are formal requirements to be met for each national patent office. We are able to appoint local agents in each of the European states of interest to you and obtain translations of the full patent text, if this is required. We will, of course, discuss with you in detail the requirements for validation and provide detailed costs in good time before the deadlines.
If proceeding with option (ii), we will need to file a translation of the patent specification into another EU language and attend to the formal requirements for conversion to a unitary patent. There is a very short, unextendible deadline of 1 month after the date of grant for attending to this.
An opposition period runs nine months from the date of the decision to grant your European patent. This allows any third party to raise objections before the EPO, opposing the grant of a patent. We will monitor this period on your behalf and advise you of any issues arising.
EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATIONS