Businesses intending to protect their patents on European markets may apply for a European patent in a simplified procedure under the European Patent Convention.
The application can be filed directly with the European Patent Office (EPO) or with the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland (or in another national patent office). The application should be made in English, French, or German and should contain a request for patent protection, a description of the invention, reservations, drawings, and a summary. If the application is made in another language, it is necessary to supply a translation into one of the aforementioned languages.
The first step in the European patent granting procedure is a formal check to ensure that all necessary documents have been submitted. After that, the application is dated and assigned a number.
The next stage is the European search report containing documents which may impact the novelty assessment and inventive step of the submission. Within 18 months from the application date, the EPO sends the search report to the applicant, who may decide to agree to a full search and continue to apply for the European patent. The application is then also published on the European Publication Server. One of the conditions required by the EPO application procedure is the payment of fees for maintaining the validity of the application before the beginning of each consecutive year counting from the application date, starting from year three.
At the applicant’s request, the EPO conducts a substantive evaluation of the invention. During that time, EPO experts remain in contact with the applicant or his or her attorney. The evaluation aims to determine whether the invention meets all the patentability requirements of the European Patent Convention. If an expert decides that a patent may be granted, a letter on the intention to grant the patent is issued. The applicant must submit the translations of his or her reservations and make suitable fee payments. Next, the decision to grant the patent is published in the European Patent Bulletin. The European patent starts to apply on the day of the publication. However, to ensure its validity in the desired countries, validation procedures must be completed within three months from the date of publication.
Validation of a European patent
After a patent is published in the European Patent Bulletin, it must be approved in each of the designated states for the protection to be valid and effective. The patent holder should submit a translation of claims to national patent offices in their official languages within three months of the publication of the information about granting the patent. Depending on the local law of a given state, the applicant may also be required to pay certain fees within a specified deadline.
Check out other procedures for applying inventions and utility models