European Patent Applications
A European patent application can either be filed directly (within 12 months of filing a UK application) or it can be derived from a PCT application (31 months after filing a UK application). The procedure for each is of course slightly different, but the end result is the same.
Grant of a European patent does not result in a single European patent. Instead it results in a ‘bundle’ of national patents. Upon grant of a European patent, the patents have to be validated in the countries of interest. For a full list of countries in which protection may be obtained through this system see here: EPC Member States
The cost of validating in each country varies greatly as different countries have different validation requirements, some requiring a translation of the full application, others requiring a translation of the claims alone and other requiring only recordal of an address for service. Thus costs can be anywhere in the region of £200 to £3000 upwards per country. It is very unusual for applicants to validate European patents in all countries; normally a few main counties are selected, such as France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK.
Although the European Patent Office fees are quite substantial, European patent applications can represent good value for money as the central search and examination procedure reduces costs in comparison to prosecuting applications in several different countries.
It should be noted that while a European patent application is pending renewal fees are due. These fees are quite high, being several hundred pounds payable annually.
Of course a European application can be filed in conjunction with one or more direct national applications.
Contact us for more information on European patent applications.