3 steps - 3 minutes

How to get a European Patent?

You have to go through these steps if you would like to have a European Patent

If you do not already know many things about the European Patent, do not panic! We are giving you a brief guide of the system itself, which will enable you to patent and then validate your invention in Europe.


How to get a European Patent?


Indeed, this is the first question which needs to be answered. The European Patent Office itself provides a help to make it easier to find answers to these question.

If you have an invention, first you have to make sure that it is new, or in other words, still not exist. To be patentable, the invention must be “new, industrially applicable and involve an inventive step” – according to patent law. If an invention is patented, it creates an exclusive right for the use of the patented subject.

In order to make sure the patentable invention is unique, you should carry out a patent search.

Where to go for a patent search?

Basically all IP law firms, especially those with a patent department can conduct such a search. Pintz & Partners LLC is also such law firm, whose contact info can be accessed here. The European Patent Office advises that every applicant should seek legal advice when applying for a European patent. Nevertheless such representation is mandatory only for non-EU residents.


The process of getting a European Patent involves 10 steps.


1.    European patent application, filing


A European patent application has the following parts:

-      request for grant

-      patent description

-      patent claims

-      patent drawings

-      patent abstract


The official languages of the EPO are English, German and French. Applications can be filed in any languages. However, if the files are not in any of the languages listed above, a proper translation must be also attached.


2.    Examination


All parts of the application are checked during the examination: the form and content of the request for grant, the designation of the inventor, the drawings, the abstract, the appointment of an EU-based legal representative and the translation, if attached. The fees due are also checked.


In case the EPO finds everything in order, the application is given a filing date.


3.    Search


In its following step, the EPO assesses the novelty of the patent. The examiners go through the claims thoroughly but take the description and the drawings also into account. The examiners draw up a report and send it immediately to the applicant. The report contains an initial opinion as to whether the request for grant is in accordance with the European Patent Convention.


4.    Publication


If the opinion holds that the request meets the requirements of the European Patent Convention, the application will be published along with the search report, which usually takes place 18 months after the date of filing. From this time, applicants have six months to decide whether they would like to request a substantive examination, which is the next step of the process. If so, the associated payment has to be sorted to the EPO.


Provisional protection exists from the date of the publication and regards the states designated in the application.


5.    Substantive examination


Each examination is conducted by a group of three examiners, one of whom keeps in touch with the applicant or his representative. In order to ensure objectivity, the examiners always make a group-decision.


6.    Grant


In case the examining division holds that the patent can be granted, it makes a decision to grant. As a next step, a mention of the grant will be published in the European Patent Bulletin.      


7.    Validation


EPO member states can set further requirements for EPO-granted patents to be valid, and many of them, in fact, do so. They usually require the translation of the claims (sometimes even the description) in the official language of the applied country. From the date of the publication, the applicant has three months to provide such translation and validate the patent in the requested EPO states.


8.    Opposition


Any third party that opposes the publication of the mention of a grant can challenge the applicant by putting in an opposition. 9 months are provided for such action. Similarly to the substantive examination, oppositions are also dealt by a group of three examiners.


9.    Limitation/revocation


The patent holder can limit or revoke the European patent, which also needs to be published in the European Patent Bulletin.    


10. Appeal


The decisions of the EPO can be subject to appeal. These cases are handled by an independent board of appeal, or by the Enlarged Board of Appeal.









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