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European Patent Application FAQ

Updated:2018-5-14 14:47:05    Source:www.tannet-group.comViews:146

European patent application FAQ, as shown below, is collected and assorted by Tannet in the purpose of briefing clients on some the frequently asked questions about EU patent. The European Patent Convention (EPC), also known as the Convention on the Grant of European Patents of 5 October 1973, is a multilateral treaty instituting the European Patent Organisation and providing an autonomous legal system according to which European patents are granted. The term European patent is used to refer to patents granted under the European Patent Convention.

1. What are patents and what do they protect?
Patents protect technical inventions in all fields of technology. They are valid in individual countries, for a specified period. Patents give holders the right to prevent third parties from commercially exploiting their invention. In return, applicants must fully disclose their invention. Patent applications and granted patents are published, which makes them a prime source of technical information.

Under the European Patent Convention (EPC), patents are granted only for inventions that are new, involve an inventive step and are industrially applicable. An invention meets these requirements if it:

was not known to the public in any form,
is not obvious to a person skilled in the art, and
can be manufactured or used industrially.
Discoveries, mathematical methods, computer programs and business methods as such are not regarded as inventions. Surgical and therapeutic procedures, diagnostic methods and new plant or animal varieties are completely excluded from patentability.

2. How long does a granted patent stay valid?
The maximum term of a European patent is 20 years from its filing date. The patent may lapse earlier if the annual renewal fees are not paid or if the patent is revoked by the patentee or after opposition proceedings. In certain cases (medical or plant protection product patents) it is possible to extend the period of protection.

3. What do I have to do to apply for a European patent?
Requests for the grant of a European patent must provide:
a request for the grant of a European patent (EPO Form 1001);
a description of the invention;
one or more claims;
any drawings referred to in the description or the claims;
an abstract.

4. How long does the grant procedure take?
The European patent grant procedure takes about three to five years from the date your application is filed. It is made up of two main stages. The first comprises a formalities examination, the preparation of the search report and the preliminary opinion on whether the claimed invention and the application meet the requirements of the EPC. The second involves substantive examination.

5. Do I have to appoint a professional representative?
If you have either a residence or a place of business within the territory of an EPC contracting state you are not obliged to be represented by a professional representative (European patent attorney). If you are a non-resident applicant, you may file a European patent application on your own behalf but must appoint a professional representative and act through him afterwards. This does not apply to fee payments, since these may be made by anybody.

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