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European Patents, How Do You Do It?

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26 Apr 2022, 02:24 GMT+10

Maybe you've got an idea for an invention, and you want to make sure that no one steals it. That's why patents exist, right? Did you know that you can use the European Patent Office to apply for a patent for multiple European countries simultaneously?

Multiple patent filings spare you the hassle of submitting separate country applications across Europe. This multiple patent application is known as a European Patent application.

You should remember that there are services that can help you with your patent application and make it less hassle for you to undertake the process alone.

There's Services That Can Help

For example, one of the key companies in Britain that do this work, Clarivate, coordinates lawyers and other advisors to make the patent application far smoother.

It's very important to remember that a European patent is not a European Union patent. There have been efforts to create an EU patent system, but arguments over language and legalities have halted any progress.

However, the European Patent Office (EPO) enables you to submit one application and choose 42 countries. You decide which countries you would like your intellectual property rights upheld in and then make the application through the EPO.

A designation fee is payable for every country up to seven countries, and after that, you don't pay any more for the eighth country.

What Is A European Patent?

A European patent comes from the EPO through a unified patent issuing process using the European Patent Convention (EPC), covering 38 contracting countries, two validating states and two extended member states.

Who Can Apply?

Any person is entitled to file a European patent application.

Suppose the petitioner is not a citizen of a member state of the EPC or is not ordinarily living in a member country of the EPC. In that case, they should be represented by a solicitor who is registered to do that work.

List Of EPO Registered Representatives

Such professional representatives are recorded on a list held at the EPO. You're free to approach the EPO and ask them for a list of people who can represent you if you don't normally live in one of the EPO's 42 nation-states. You may then contact your chosen advocate yourself and find out how they can represent you.

Where Can You Apply And In Which Languages?

European patent petitions may be initiated in these ways:

  • by Internet (via the EPO's online application system)
  • by mail
  • by fax
  • personally at an EPO office or any national patent office that offers this service.

The European patent application process is undertaken using any of the three official languages of the EPO. The official languages are English, French, and German.

When an application is submitted in a different language, a supplementary translation into one of the three official languages must be supplied two months after submission.

Formal Requirements

A European patent application must include:

  • a petition for the issue of a European patent,
  • a specification of the invention,
  • one or more claims,
  • illustrations that show the patent and how it works,
  • a summary of what the patent is and how it works.

Procedure

As soon as it receives a request, the EPO searches whether such a patent already exists, the extent to which a patent can be granted under the law and whether any pending patents may rival it.

A translation of the patent submission into one of the EPO's administrative languages is required not later than two months after applying.

Grant Of Patent

Should a patent be awarded, the petitioner has to settle the grant fee (around €715) within four months of receipt of the notification, produce a translated version of the patent claims in those other official languages (e.g. English and French) which were not the language of procedure at the EPO (e.g. German).

After that, the EPO will issue the European patent specification. Only from that moment does the patent owner benefit fully from the legal recognition of their patent.

After Grant Of The Patent

The applicant has to provide translations into the national language or make payment of the relevant renewal fees within three months of the date of issue of the European patent in all contracting countries where he intends to uphold his intellectual property rights.

Any person may lodge a formal opposition in writing at the EPO against the issued European patent no later than nine months after the date of issue of the European patent.

Opposition can result in rejection of the opposition, withdrawal of the patent as a whole, or upholding the patent in amended condition.

All judgments of the European Patent Office rendered in the ruling can also be contested on appeal.

So when you get that big idea, you must be aware of the European Patent Office and what it means. As long as you follow the EPO's rules, pay the fees, and provide the documentation that is requested, you'll get your invention reviewed.

If the EPO decides to grant you a patent it's great for your idea. But that's only part of the way. You must convince manufacturers and retailers to make and then stock it. But don't be disheartened, the road to success begins with a single step.

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