The European phase of an international patent application is described as a regional phase, unlike most other PCT territories, which are described as national phase patent applications. Despite this distinction, the majority of the European patent application procedure will be familiar to most patent attorneys practicing in non-European countries. However there are some specific aspects that will differ, as outlined below.
The European patent application provisionally covers a number of contracting states, whilst it is pending. This is achieved by paying a single designation fee to the EPO upon entry into the European phase, alongside the other official fees.
The regional status of the European patent application also requires that renewal fees are payable annually whilst the patent application is pending. A single renewal fee is payable each year to the EPO while the application is pending, starting with the third year calculated from the PCT application filing date.
There is a choice of three official languages that can be used before the EPO, namely English, German and French. Upon acceptance of the European patent application for grant, it is necessary to file translations of the claims into the other two, non-used official languages.
Once granted, the European patent is recognised as a national patent in each of the designated countries provided any specific steps required under national law are taken. This stage is referred to as ‘validation’ of the European patent. Both the steps required and the associated cost varies from country to country. Specific steps may comprise translation of the claims or whole patent into a local language, payment of official fees and appointment of a local address for service. We can provide a list of all available countries and associated costs for your European patent during the grant phase so that you can select individual countries for validation in line with the relevant strategy for that patent.