A European patent gives its holder the same rights in the designated contracting states as a national patent. It is valid for 20 years. A patent is a legal title granting its holder the exclusive right to make use of an invention for a limited area and time by stopping others from, among other things, making, using or selling it without authorization.
In 1992, 200.000th European patent was granted and 500.000th European patent application was published by the office. In 2000, 1.000.000th European
patent application was published. According to the EPO statistics, the Office receives over 140 000 patent applications per year.
- Filing of the patent application
- Examination on filing and formalities examination
- Publication of application and search report
- Substantive examination (grant of patent or refusal of application)
- (possibly) Opposition proceedings
European patent applications may be filed either with the European Patent Office in Munich, The Hague or Berlin, or with national patent offices in the contracting states.
Applicants may, within 12 months of the date on which a national or European patent application was filed, claim for the same invention the date of this first application for a subsequent national or European filing.
The application is published 18 months after the date on which the European or national first application was filed (priority date). The search report is published either with the application or later on. Applicants then have six months to decide whether or not to pursue their application by requesting substantive examination.
The three criteria for patentability are:
. Inventive step
. Industrial applicability
Validation of European Patents in Turkey
If a European patent is granted, competence is transferred to the designated contracting states, where it affords the same level of legal protection as a national patent.
On average it takes 44 months to obtain a European patent. Under certain circumstances more rapid processing is possible at no extra cost. A European patent is valid for 20 years from the date on which the application was filed.
A European patent can automatically be validated in the EPC member states if the application is granted a patent by the EPO. A granted European patent must be validated in any of the contracting states within 3 months from the mention of the grant decision on the European Patent Bulletin.
Member States of the European Patent Convention
Albania [AL], Austria [AT], Belgium [BE], Bulgaria [BG], Switzerland [CH], Cyprus [CY], Czech Republic [CZ], Germany [DE], Denmark [DK], Estonia [EE], Spain [ES], Finland [FI], France [FR], United Kingdom [GB], Greece [GR], Croatia [HR], Hungary [HU], Ireland [IE], Iceland [IS], Italy [IT], Lichtenstein [LI], Lithuania [LT], Luxembourg [LU], Latvia [LV], Monaco [MC], Macedonia [MK], Malta [MT], Netherlands [NL], Norvay (NO), Poland [PL], Portugal [PT], Romania [RO], Serbia [RS], Sweden [SE], Slovenia [SL], Slovakia [SK], San Marino [SM], Turkey [TR]
Additional States of the European Patent Convention
Extension states: Bosnia and Herzegovina [BA], Serbia and Montenegro [ME]
Validation states: Morocco [MA] and Moldova [MD]
Within nine months of the date of grant (mention of the grant decision on the European Patent Bulletin), any third party may file opposition against a patent they believe does not comply with the substantive provisions of the EPC. The EPO opposition division’s decision in such matters holds good in all the contracting states designated for the patent concerned.
Appeals may be lodged against the decisions of the Receiving Section, the examining divisions and the opposition divisions. The members of the boards of appeal of the EPO are impartial, their decisions being governed solely by the provisions of the EPC. Where necessary, cases may be referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal as the body responsible for ensuring uniform application of the law.
Benefits for the Applicants
With its centralized grant procedure, the EPO offers applicants a cost-effective and time-saving way of applying for patent protection in up to 43 countries at once. Its patents are “strong”: every European patent has undergone substantive examination and can be obtained for countries which otherwise operate only a registration system.
In March 2003, EU governments have decided that a community patent is now to be established as a complement to national patents and the existing European system under the EPC, with the European Patent Office playing a key role in examination and administration. The problems of legal certainty and affordability have been addressed by agreeing to set up a central patent court in Luxembourg and providing that only the patent claims have to be translated into all Community languages.