European Patent

What is a European patent?

A European patent is a protective right granted for inventions in all fields of technology. A European patent takes effect as a national patent in all contractual states of the European Patent Convention for which it has been granted.

Maximum term of protection

The maximum term of protection of a European patent is 20 years.

What can be protected?

A European patent enables the protection of inventions which are novel, involve an inventive step and are industrially applicable.

Novelty is substantiated if the invention does not form part of prior art, i.e. if it was not made available to the public by way of a written or oral description, by use, or in any other way.

 An invention involves an inventive step if a skilled person is not able to derive the solution to a technical problem from prior art in an obvious manner.

 An invention is industrially applicable if the subject-matter of the invention can be produced or used in any field of industry inclusive of agriculture.

 Exceptions to patentability include

  • discoveries as well as scientific theories and mathematic methods,
  • aesthetic creations,
  • plans, rules and methods for intellectual activities, for games or for business activities.

How can a European patent be filed?

A European patent can be filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) or the competent offices of a contractual state of the European Patent Convention, from where the application is forwarded to the EPO.

Examination procedure

A European Search Report is issued and published. In this Search Report, patentability of the application is examined with a view to novelty and inventive step.

Upon request, the application is examined with a view to patentability, i.e. novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability.