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We Protect Inventions, Innovations and Brands in United Kingdom, Europe,and around the World

European Patents

The Community Patent Convention provides a means of gaining patent protection covering the different territories of all European Community states by single unitary grant from one single application.

European patent applications are generally cost-effective compared to the alternative of filing individual national patent applications in each state, where there are three or more states designated in the European patent application. An application for a European patent which includes any one country from the European Economic Community entitles the applicant to also gain a Community patent.

European patents are granted by the European Patent Office (EPO). The European Patent Office is situated in Munich and Berlin in Germany, and at the Hague in The Netherlands. Patent applications filed at the European Patent Office are prosecuted in a single official language, which can be either English, French or German and undergo a rigorous search and examination procedure. The European patent application covers a bundle of countries, the selection of countries being made by the applicant.

At the end of the patent application procedure, the European Patent Office grants a single European patent covering all designated states. To continue the rights for their maximum 20 year term from first filing date, the patent must be "validated" in each of the states for which rights are to be continued. Renewal fees must be paid in each national state for as long as the individual national patents are to remain in force.

The European Patent Convention (EPC) covers 31 contracting states as follows:

(AT) Austria; (BE) Belgium; (BG) Republic of Bulgaria; (CH) Switzerland; (CY) Cyprus; (CZ) Czech Republic;(DE) Germany; (DK) Denmark; (EE) Republic of Estonia; (ES) Spain; (FI) Finland; (FR) France; (GB) United Kingdom; (GR) Hellenic Republic; (HU) Hungary; (IE) Ireland; (IS) Iceland; (IT) Italy; (LI) Liechtenstein; (LT) Lithuania; (LU) Luxembourg; (LV) Latvia; (MC) Monaco; (NL) Netherlands; (PL) Poland; (PT) Portugal; (RO) Republic of Romania; (SE) Sweden; (SI) Slovenia; (SK) Slovak Republic; (TR) Turkey.

Further, European patents can be extended to the following extension states:

( AL) Albania; (BA) Bosnia & Herzegovina; (HR) Croatia; (MK) The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; (YU) Serbia and Montenegro.

These extension states, whilst not having signed the European Patent Convention, have amended their National Laws based on the European Patent Convention.

European patents can be applied for by filing an application either directly at the European Patent Office in the Hague, Munich or Berlin, or via a local national receiving office, such as the UK Patent Office. European patents can also be obtained via an international patent application designating the European region.

The European Patent Office search procedure is highly respected for its thoroughness and quality. Typically a search may issue within around four to eighteen months from filing.

The examination procedure before the European Patent Office is typically activated within 6 months to 2 years from filing. The examination procedure is somewhat lengthy, but is generally considered to be quite thorough. Patent applications are examined on the basis of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability. There are some excluded classes of matter which are considered not to be inventions for the purpose of patentability. These include mathematical methods, methods of doing business, and scientific discoveries. However, even in these fields, patents have been granted for inventions which involve a technical contribution to the art.

Once granted, the European patent is open to opposition from third parties for a period of 9 months. Simultaneously with the opposition period, generally within three months of grant, the patent must be "validated" in each of the designated contracting states where protection is required to be maintained. The validation of national states generally requires filing a translation, where the application is not already in a specified language of the contracting state, and payment of fees to the local national patent offices. The criteria for validation vary from country to country. If the validation is not effected in any particular state, then the protection in that state lapses.

For our foreign associates, we require your faxed, email or postal instructions detailing name of application, name and home address of inventors, how the applicants derived their rights in the invention (e.g. by virtue of employment of the inventors), copy of specification, claims, abstract and formal drawings. A power of attorney is required on filing or shortly after filing. No notarisation or legalisation of documents is required.


As of 1 January 2007 a European patent application can designate any one or more of the following EPC contracting states Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland/Liechtenstein, Turkey and United Kingdom and can be extended to cover the following so-called extension states Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In order to file a European application (which application can be filed at the UK Patent Office) and establish a filing date we need the following:

  • Full name, address and nationality of applicant (s);
  • Full details of the invention or a copy of specification, claims, abstract and drawings to be filed;
  • Number, country and date of priority application (s) (if applicable).

In due course, to complete the filing requirements we will need:

  • The EPC contracting states to be designated and the extension states to be included
  • Details of the inventor (s) and the applicant's right to apply (e.g. date of an assignment)
  • Certified copy of priority document (unless filed at the Japanese Patent Office) and verified translation
    (if applicable)
  • Formal drawings if not initially provided.

Click here for filing a patent applications at the European Patent Office.


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