The European patent is granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) and has the same effect, in the member states of the European Patent Organization (EPO) in accordance with the European Patent Convention (EPC), as a national patent. European Patent Convention (EPC) member countries (January, 2003) are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland (incl. Liechtenstein), Turkey, United Kingdom. Albania, Lithuania, Latvia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania can also be added as Extension States. The main advantage of the European patent system is that only one proceeding is required to obtain a patent in almost all the European countries.
The European Patent Convention establishes four legal requirements to obtain patent protection:
1) existing “invention”
3) inventive step, defined as non-obviousness
4) industrial applicability.
LANGUAGE OF THE PROCEDURE
The European Patent Convention provides for three official languages: English, French, and German.
Patent application in Europe:
- Direct Path: Direct submitting an application to the European Patent Office
- PCT Path: PCT application for a period of 31 months from the earliest priority date.
Priority claims must be filed within 16 months from the date of the initial application.
Patent validity period:
The longest period of protection for European patents is 20 years from the date of application. The maximum period of protection for European patents in the field of medical or plant protection varieties can be extended appropriately. An annual fee is required from the third year of the application date.
For more information of European patent application, please contact our patent consultant.