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COMPETENCE
The E.P.O. (European Patent Office) is the authority responsible for granting patents for Europe.
PATENTABLE SUBJECT-MATTER

Any products or processes, in all field of technology, provided that they are new (absolute novelty required), involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application. The following shall not be regarded as inventions (to the extent to which an application relates to such subject-matter or activities as such):

(a)           discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;

(b)           schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;

(c)          aesthetic creations;

(d)           presentations of information. 

EXCEPTIONS

TO PATENTABILITY

European patents shall not be granted in respect of:  

(a)          plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals; this provision shall not apply to microbiological processes or the products thereof;

(b)           methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body; this provision shall not apply to products, in particular substances or compositions, for use in any of these methods. 

DURATION/ANNUITIES 
20 years as from the date of the filing of the application. Renewal fees are due starting from the 3th year. It is also possible to belatedly pay the renewal fee up to six months after the due date, provided that a surcharge is paid. 
RIGHTS 
Basically, a European patent is to be regarded as a series of national patent applications. In this sense, the patent rights are the same conferred by the various national patents and patent applications.
PRIORITY 
Europe is part of the Paris convention, and therefore it is possible to claim the priority date of one or more foreign applications filed not earlier than 12 months before the filing date. A certified copy of the priority application is to be filed within 16 months from the filing date. 
FILING OPTIONs
A European Patent applications can be filed either in a standard manner (e.g. via Paris Convention) or via PCT. Each of these options has peculiar features (see below).
PROCEDURE 
After the filing of the application, the EPO issues a Search Report and a Search Opinion, which is to be considered as the “first act” of the Examination procedure. Upon Examination, if EPO considers the application allowable, a communication in this sense is sent to the Applicant. Within 4 months from notification of this communication, the applicant (unless he disagrees with the EPO about the text to be granted) must reply thereto by paying the prescribed fees and by providing the translation of the claims into the two EPO languages not being the language of proceeding. Subsequently, the EPO bulletin mentions the grant of the application. 
VALIDATION
Within 3 months from the above mention of grant, the patent is to be validated into the European Countries of interest. The acts to be performed in this sense (paying of fees and/or providing translation of claims/whole text) vary according to Country.
DIVISIONAL APPLs 
Voluntary divisional applications may be filed within two years from the date of the first communication by the Examining Division. Mandatory divisional applications (i.e. established by the Examiner during Examination) may be filed within the time limit indicated into the corresponding communication by the Examining Division. 
OPPOSITION
An opposition to a granted European Patent may be filed within 9 months from the mention of its grant into the EP bulletin. 
APPEALS 
An appeal may be filed against the decisions of the EPO (e.g. against the refusal of an application) within two months from the notification of the decision.  
CONVERSION INTO UTILITY MODEL
A European patent application which is refused, withdrawn or deemed to be withdrawn or a European which is revoked (e.g. after opposition) may be converted into a national utility model application for those States that permits this procedure (e.g. Italy, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Austria…). 
MEANS OF REDNESS
Further processing and Re-establishing of rights are possible. 
NOTICE
To inform the public and the competitors, it is recommended to use wording "Patent pending" with the application number on the products/packaging/advertising, and "Patented" with the granting number when the patent is granted.  
RECORDAL
Any change regarding the name and place of business of the owner, assignments, licenses and any action related to the patent has to be entered into the Patent register.  
 
 
 
STANDARD FILING OF A EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION (e.g. VIA PARIS CONVENTION)  
EUROPEAN SEARCH REPORT AND OPINION
After filing, a European Search Report (ESR) and a Search Opinion (SO) is drawn up by the EPO, generally within 4-6 months from the filing date. A reply to the SO is mandatorily due within 6 months from the publication of the SR.
EXAMINATION
The examination is to be requested within six months after the publication of the ESR.
VOLUNTARY AMENDs

Voluntary amendments (obviously within the content of the application as filed) are possible at any time after receiving the Search Report and before the Examiner has started to draw up an Office Action.

DOCUMENTS FOR FILING

Applicant’s data (Name, address, nationality);

Inventor’s data (Name, address, nationality);

Text of the application (preferably in WORD format) and drawings (if any, preferably in DXF or JPG format);

(Possible) Translation of the application into English, German or French (2 months from the filing date).

 

 

 

FILING OF A EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION VIA PCT

TIME LIMIT The entry into the European Regional phase is to be performed within 31 months from filing date/priority date (if any).
SUPPLEMENTARY EUROPEAN SEARCH REPORT AND OPINION After filing, a Supplementary European Search Report (SESR) and a Search Opinion (SO) are drawn up by EPO if it was neither ISA nor IPEA during PCT phase. A reply is mandatorily due within 6 months from the notification of the SESR and SO.
EXAMINATION The examination is to be requested upon entering the EP phase.
VOLUNTARY AMENDs Voluntary amendments (obviously within the content of the application as filed) are possible upon entering the EP Phase (Art 41 PCT) and/or shortly later, after an invitation of the EPO to do so.
DOCUMENTS FOR FILING

Bibliographic data of the PCT Application;

(Possible) Translation of the application into English, German or French.

(Possible) Amendments to the application.