Filing a European Patent application

A European patent may be applied for on the basis of a direct European application (under EPC) (after the priority national application or without priority national application) or on the basis of an international patent application (Euro-PCT phase).

Filing terms:

  • If the priority national application is filed, the European Patent application must be filed within 12 months from the priority national application date.

An applicant can claim multiple priorities, even if they originate from different countries. In this case, time limits which run from the date of priority are calculated from the earliest priority date.

In order to avoid the loss of rights with regards to the priority, the priority documents must be provided no later than 16 months after the earliest priority date.

  • If a PCT (International patent application) is filed before a European patent application, then the European Patent application must be filed within 31 months from the date of the priority application.

European patent applications consist of four or five parts:

  • Request for grant of the European patent;
    Requests could be made using the official “Request for grant” form (EPO Form 1001), which can be downloaded at:www.epo.org/forms

    The request shall contain: 

    • a petition for the grant of a European Patent;
    • the title of the invention,
    • the name, address and nationality of the applicant and the country in which his residence or principal place of business is located,
    • if the applicant has appointed a representative, his name and the address of his place of business,
    • where appropriate, an indication that the application constitutes a divisional application and the number of the earlier European Patent applications;
    • in some cases, the number of the original European Patent application;
    • where applicable, a declaration claiming the priority of an earlier application and indicating the date on which and the country in or for which the earlier application was filed;
    • the signature of the applicant or his representative;
    • a list of the documents accompanying the request. This list shall also indicate the number of sheets of the description, claims, drawings and abstract filed with the request;
    • the designation of the inventor (if the applicant is not the inventor or he is not the sole inventor, the applicant must file the designation of the inventor in a separate document, indicating the origin of his right to the European Patent).
  • Description of the invention;
    The description must describe the invention clearly and completely enough for a person skilled in the art to be able to carry it out.

    The description must meet the following criteria:

    • specify the technical field to which the invention relates;
    • indicate the background art, citing source documents (patent specifications, books, periodicals);
    • disclose the invention as claimed. The disclosure must indicate the technical problem that the invention solves and describe the solution;
    • describe what is illustrated in any drawings, making sure the figure numbers and reference signs are given;
    • indicate how the invention is susceptible of industrial application.

    The description creates the basis for the claims.

  • One or more claims;

    The claims in particular need to be drafted with skill, as they are the most important aspect of a patent.

    The claims must define the matter for which patent protection is sought in terms of its technical features. They must be clear and concise and be supported by the description.

    The clarity of the claims is of utmost importance, as the claims define the scope of the matter for which protection is sought. The words should have their ordinary meaning; if a specific meaning has been given, this must be clear from the wording; this is important, as only the claims of the European patent will be translated in another official languages.

    There are two types of claims: independent claims and dependent claims.

    An independent claim must state all the essential features of the invention. European patent applications may not contain more than one independent claim, unless Rule 43(2) EPC applies.

    Dependent claims should include all the features of the claim to which they relate. They must contain a reference to this other claim, which may also be dependent, and then state the additional features for which protection is sought.

    If an application contains drawings, reference signs which link the claims to the drawings should be included. The reference signs could be put in brackets after the technical features mentioned in the claims.

    Claims incurring fees:

    If a European patent application comprises more than 15 claims, a claim fee must be paid for each claim in excess of 15. Claims fees are as follows: 225 EUR (fee code 015) per claim for the 16th to 50th claim ; 555 EUR for the 51st and each subsequent claim up to a limit of 50.

  • Any drawings referred to in the description or the claims;
    An application may also contain drawings. Such form of representation is useful additional information to the description, particularly if it illustrates the features of the invention.

    Flow sheets and diagrams are considered to be drawings.

    Claims and reference signs that are not mentioned in the description may not be used in the drawings, and vice versa.

    The same features, when denoted by reference signs, must be denoted by the same signs throughout the whole application.

  • Abstract.
    The abstract is purely for technical information and is not used to assess the patentability of the invention.

    The purpose of the abstract is to inform the public of the invention of the application. It is therefore included in the publication of the application. The abstract should also be an efficient instrument for the purposes of searching in the particular technical field of the invention.

    If the abstract lacks application documents, the Receiving Section of EPO will notify an applicant or his representative, and invite him to file the abstract within the period of 2 months.

After filing, the subject-matter of a European patent application cannot be extended beyond the content of the application as filed.

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