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Patents in Europe

Patent Filing in Europe (EPO)

Documents for Patents filing in Europe (EPO)

A European patent application consists of:

  • a request for grant (EPO Form 1001)
  • a description of the invention
  • claims
  • drawings (if any)
  • an abstract.

Language for filing

The official languages of the European Patent Office are English, French, and German. Applications can be filed with EPO in any language. However, if the application is not filed in one of these languages, a translation has to be submitted.

Modes of filing Patent Application with EPO/Europe

  • Online
  • Physical filing- Applications for European patents can be filed by post, fax (excluding authorisations and priority documents) or by hand at the EPO’s headquarters in Munich, its branch in The Hague and its Berlin sub-office.

What is the official fee for filing Patent Application with EPO/Europe?

The Official fee of European Patent Office (EPO) from filing till grant can be found at the below link: http://www.epoline.org/portal/portal/default/epoline.Scheduleoffees

Essential Forms for Patent Filing in Europe/EPO

Some important forms required for filing Patent Application with EPO are listed as follows:

FormsDescription
1001Request for grant of a European patent 
1002Designation of inventor 
1003Authorisation 
1005PACE request to the European Patent Office
1009Request for participation in the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot program 
1010Payment of fees and expenses 
1011Declaration for SMEs, natural persons, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations for the purpose of fee reductions under Rule 6 EPC 
2300Notice of opposition to a European Patent
2380Request for limitation or revocation of a European patent

What is the time limit to file Divisional Application with EPO/Europe?

As of April 01, 2010, Amended Rules 36 and 135 EPC requires that a divisional application will have to be filed within 24 months from either:

  • the very first communication from the Examining Division (Article 94(3) EPC) in respect of the earliest application in a family or chain; or
  • any objection of lack of unity of invention (Article 82 EPC) in respect of any application within the family.

How is the patent application filed via Divisional application in EPO?

As per Article 82 of EPC, the “European patent application shall relate to one invention only or to a group of inventions so linked as to form a single general inventive concept”.

The usual reason for filing a European divisional application is that the parent application does not satisfy the requirements as to unity of invention (Article 82) and the applicant is not content with limiting it.

All the states designated in the parent application at the time of filing of the divisional application are deemed to be designated in the latter. However, contracting states the designations of which have been withdrawn or are deemed to be withdrawn in respect of the parent application at the time of filing the divisional application cannot be designated in respect of the divisional application. The same applies to extension and validation states.

How is the patent application filed via PCT Route in EPO?

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international filing system in which the applicant gets an international filing date in all the designated countries, conferring the late entry (up to 31 months) to the national offices without affecting the priority date. The PCT does not provide for grant of Patent, the responsibility of granting or rejecting the patents lies exclusively with the regional patent offices on the basis of their local Patent law and rules.

The time limit applicable for entry into the National Phase in EPO is 31 months from the date of earliest priority. 

How is the patent application filed via Convention Route in EPO?

When an applicant files the application for a patent, claiming a priority date based on the same or substantially similar application filed in one or more of the convention countries, it is called a convention application. The convention application shall be filed with EPO within 12 months from the date of filing the similar application in the priority country.

What is the Search of Patent Application in EPO/Europe?

A search report is issued by EPO citing all the relevant documents which may be helpful to assess the novelty and inventive step for the claimed invention.

Patent Examination in Europe (EPO)

What is the Substantive Examination of Patent Application in EPO/Europe?

Applicants then have the time limit of 6 months to decide whether to pursue his application further by filing request for Examination.

Formality Examination of Patent Application in EPO/Europe

The first step after filing of Patent Application with EPO is Formality Examination which is made to determine whether the application fulfills the necessary procedural and formal requirements as follows:

  • an indication that a European patent is sought
  • particulars identifying the applicant
  • a description of the invention or
  • a reference to a previously filed application

including the form and content of the request for grant, drawings and abstract, the designation of the inventor, the appointment of a professional representative, the necessary translations and the fees due.

Patent Publication in Europe

What is the Publication of Patent Application in EPO/Europe?

The application for patent is filed (normally with Search Report), within 18 months from the date of filing or the date of priority. Provisional protection is conferred on the applicant from the date of publication of the patent application.

Patent Opposition in Europe

At any time after the grant of patent but before the expiry of nine months from the date of publication of grant of patent in European Patent Bulletin, any person except Patent Proprietor may oppose the grant of patent after the payment of prescribed fee on the following grounds:

  • that the subject-matter of the patent is not patentable within the terms of Articles 52-57 of EPC;
  • that the invention is not disclosed clearly and completely enough for a person skilled in the art to carry it out;
  • that the patent’s subject-matter extends beyond the content of the application as filed.

There are three possible consequences at the end of the proceedings:

  • the opposition is rejected and the patent is maintained as granted;
  • the patent is maintained in an amended form, in which case a new patent specification is published;
  • the patent is revoked.

The opposition applies to all states designated in the European patent. The decision/order of the opposition divisions in respect of the opposition can be appealed within two months from the date of notification of the decision.

Grant of Patent in Europe/EPO

When the application for Patent is found in order of grant by the Examining division, the patent is granted by the Patent Office. A mention of the grant is published in the European Patent Bulletin once the translations of the claims have been filed and the fee for grant and publication have been paid.

Applicants then have the time limit of 6 months to decide whether to pursue his application further by filing request for Examination.

What are the Patent Rights granted to a Patentee in EPO/Europe?

Patents confer the right to prevent third parties from making, using or selling the invention without their owners’ consent. 

When is the patent annuity due in EPO/Europe?

Annuity or renewal fees are required to maintain the granted patent in force. Where a patentee, at the expiration of the third year from the date of filing of the patent, intends to keep the same in force he shall pay the prescribed annual fee.

How can a patent be revoked in EPO/Europe?

At any time after the grant of patent, the patent proprietor may request the revocation or limitation of his patent. 

What is the Validation of Patent Application in each Designated State of EPO/Europe?

Once the mention of the grant is published, the patent has to be validated in each of the designated states within a specific time limit to be enforceable against infringers.

In a number of contracting states, the patent owner may have to file a translation of the specification in an official language of the national patent office. Depending on the relevant national law, the applicant may also have to pay fees by a certain date.

Representation by a Professional Representative in EPO

If the applicant does not have either a residence or a place of business within the territory of an EPC contracting state (non-resident applicants) he must be represented by a professional representative and act through him in all proceedings, other than in filing the European patent application.

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