European Patent

European Patents

An organ of the European Patent Organization (EPOrg), the European Patent Office (EPO) issues patents for the states who have signed onto the European Patent Convention (EPC). The EPC currently has 16 signatories. It was signed on October 5, 1973, in Munich, Germany, and the first signatories included several European Union (EU) countries such as Germany, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and The United Kingdom (UK). Besides the 16 states, there are also six other States who have an extension (E) or validation (V) agreement with the European Patent Office (EPO). The extension and validation designations make it possible for EPO-granted European patents to be extended to the six countries.

Besides the EPC treaty, EPO also accepts international applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). In the case of international applications, EPO performs several functions: it acts as a receiver, an international search authority, and a preliminary examiner.

The best way to apply for a patent depends on the invention and relevant markets for the product. If the applicant is seeking protection in particular countries, it may be suitable for them to apply directly for a national patent in those countries. EPO is part of the IP5, a collaboration of patent offices of the United States (USPTO), Japan (JPO), South Korea (KIPO), and China (CNIPA).


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