Regardless of your nationality or place of residence, you can opt to file a European patent application with the Office (or also at one of the European Patent Office’s sites in Munich, Berlin or The Hague). A European patent gives you the possibility of securing protection for your invention in all or part of the Member States of the European Patent Organisation.
European patents are granted following a single filing procedure and can cover 41 countries representing a market of some 600 million people.
Every year, the EPO receives over 274,000 patent applications.
The application may claim priority for a first filing made in the last 12 months. The Monaco Office will pass on the application to the EPO for examination, prior art search, publication and granting.
Pursuant to the European Patent Office’s examination directives, the procedure to be followed for examining a European patent application includes a number of stages, which can be summarised as follows:
- The application designating one or more Contracting States is filed with a competent national patent office or with the EPO.
- The EPO’s Filing Section examines the application to determine whether it can be allocated a filing date and whether the necessary taxes have been paid.
- The EPO’s Filing Section verifies that the application satisfies formal requirements.
- Meanwhile, the EPO’s Search Division establishes the search report which is then sent to the applicant or their agent.
- The EPO publishes the application (after a period of 18 months following the filing date or priority date) and the search report either together or separately.
- On presentation of a request accompanied by payment of the corresponding tax, the Examining Division of the EPO then examines the substantive content of the applications and, if necessary, whether it meets formal requirements.
- If the conditions laid down by the European Patent Convention are met, a European patent is granted for the States designated.
- The EPO publishes the patent specification.
- Anyone can register their opposition to the European patent granted. After the notice of opposition has been examined, the EPO’s Opposition Division will decide whether to reject it, uphold the patent in amended form, or revoke the patent.
- If the European patent is amended, the EPO publishes a new European patent specification in an amended form.
- An appeal may be lodged against any decision of the EPO before the Office’s Boards of Appeal.
Validation in different countries and translations
In each of the countries for which it is granted, the European patent produces the same effects and is governed by the same conditions as a national patent granted in that country.
However, in order to produce its effects in a given country, after being granted (on average five years after filing), a European patent, must be “validated” by means of certain formalities, which vary from country to country but mainly concern the filing of translations in the country’s official language. The translations may concern:
- The full text of the European patent specification, or
- The claims only, with an English translation of the description being required by some countries.
If the European patent is not validated in a country, it will cease to produce its effects there.
There are no formal validation requirements applicable in Monaco. The only requirement is that annuities must be paid each year to maintain the European patent once granted. See “Maintaining your patent”.
For further information on filing a European patent application and obtaining the relevant forms, visit the OEB website.