Patent applications in Europe

In Europe, patents are granted according to the system of substantive examination. A European patent may be regarded as a bundle of national patents in the countries for which the patent is granted. In most European countries, registration of the European Patent is required in order for the European patent to take effect.

Duration of patent
The standard lifetime of a European patent is 20 years, calculated from the date of filing.

After filing, the application is examined with respect to formal requirements.
In a second stage, a novelty search is executed, and a novelty search report, accompanied by a written opinion of the European Examiner, is sent to applicant for his information.
The patent application is published 18 months from the priority date, although applicant may request early publication.
Approximately 24 months from the priority date, countries must be designated and a request for substantive examination must be filed. The latter will start substantive examination, at the end of which the Examining Division may decide to refuse the patent application or to grant the patent.
The patent is published at the same time as the mention of the grant of the patent is published.
Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the patent, opposition may be raised by any person.
For keeping a patent application in force, progressive renewal fees are due each year. The first renewal fee is due two years from the filing date (i.e. with respect to the third year after filing).

Documents and information needed
On filing, we need the following documents and information.
a) Text (description, claims, abstract) and drawings of the patent application, in French, German or English (or Dutch, in which case we will provide an English translation). You may also appeal to us for drafting a patent application or for amending an existing text.
b) Full name and address of applicant(s).
c) Filing date, application number and country of priority application(s), if priority is to be claimed.
A certified copy of the priority document may be filed later. A translation of the priority document is only necessary if requested by the Patent Office in a specific case.

The following may be supplied later:
d) Full names and addresses of all inventors.
e) A deed of assignment, if any.
Normally, a power of attorney (authorization) is not required, but the Patent Office may require the filing of a power of attorney, in which case a time limit is set.

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