If you have the ambition to market your innovation abroad it is more than wise to apply for a European patent with the European Patent Office (EPO). EPO has a number of subsidiaries in Europe, including one in Rijswijk, near The Hague in The Netherlands. Via EPO you apply for a patent that can be validated in all countries of the European Union. English is the most common language for a European patent application, but the use of French or German is also allowed.
A European patent application isn't necessarily granted. A patent attorney (examiner) of the EPO judges each application on the basis of an international novelty search. This search is carried out to verify whether the application complies with the requirements of novelty, industrial applicability and inventive step. EPO publishes both the application and the investigation report 18 months after submission. Once granted the European patent protects your invention from the day your application was submitted, the so-called 'priority date'. Thanks to the solid search a European patent offers you a much better protection than a national patent.
All European countries?
A European patent that has been granted isn't automatically valid in all countries of the European Union. Therefore it's necessary to have the patent validated in the countries concerned first. The extra costs of this validation for submission, additional taxes and translations can differ per country, just like the requirements. Therefore we strongly recommend you to make a precise consideration of the risks per country before you decide to validate your patent in all the EU countries.
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