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Direct filing of a European patent

Search Procedure: upon receipt of the European search report

The European search report is issued around 6-9 months after filing, and contains the documents cited by the Examiner, relevant for the patentability of the subject-matter claimed in the application, as well as a written opinion of the Examiner on the patentability of the invention. Even if it is not mandatory to file a response to this European search report, it is however advisable to do, in order to accelerate the examination procedure.

Examination Procedure

At the latest six months after the mention of the publication of the European search report in the European patent bulletin, the request for substantive examination has to be filed and the corresponding fee has to be paid. If no priority is claimed, this publication takes places 18 months after the filing date. The designation fee for all designation states has to be paid within the same time limit. An extension fee for each extension states has to be paid if desired. A first office action is then issued by the Examiner. The applicant is given a four month time limit (extendable once by two months) to file a response to it.

Granting Procedure

After the end of the examination procedure, the European Patent Office sends the text it intends to grant. The applicant is given four months to pay the granting fee and to file a translation of the claims only in the other two official languages of the European Patent Office (French and German if the prosecution is in English).

Validation

After the granting, the European patent is split in national patents. The national offices do not examine the patent, however a validation step is required in most of the countries.

This validation step consists often in the filing of the translated patent and the payment of a fee.

Since the London agreement, the validation step is reduced for several countries, among which France and Germany (see our detailed list and specific requirements) where the translation is no more required.

Renewal fees

The renewal fees are to be paid to the European Patent Office up to the granting of the application, from the third year from the filing date.

After the granting, the annual fees are due before each national office.

Opposition

During a 9-month period from the publication of the granting, third ones may file an opposition.

See more details on the oppostion proceeding.

During the opposition, the annual fees are still due before the national offices.

In case of a won opposition with amended claims, validation steps are to be accomplished before the national offices in the same way as after the granting.

Limitation

According to Article 105a of EPC 2000, the patentee has the possibility to file a request for limitation or revocation before the EPO.