Articles

EUROPEAN PATENTS

New products or methods in any field of technology are patentable inventions, with the exclusion of therapeutic methods practiced on the human or animal body and new animal and plant varieties obtained by essentially biological processes.

Applications may be filed at one of the branch offices of the European Patent Office or at the national Patent Office of a Member State of the European Patent Convention.

 

Requirements for a European patent to be registrable:

 

  • Novelty
  • Inventive step
  • Industrial applicability

 

It is important to know that:

 

  • Absolute novelty is required
  • Any divulgation before the patent application’s filing date or before the priority date can potentially make the patent null.
  • The invention must be usable in industry, including service and agricultural sectors.
  • Application for a European patent can be filed regardless of the existence of a prior national patent.
  • The European patent is obtained after a procedure whose phases can be summarized as follows:
  1. Filing of the text in one of the official languages (English, French, German);
  2. Search report of the European Patent Office which highlights the documents that may hinder the grant of the European patent;
  3. Filing of the examination request by the patent applicant or his mandatary;
  4. Patent examination by the European Patent Office with possible contradictory to overcome the examiner’s observations;
  5. Grant of the European patent;
  6. Validation of the granted European patent in the countries in which patent protection is sought.
  • The European patent can be obtained in one or more of the following States:
  • Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
  • Although not being Member States of the European Patent Convention, the following countries are extension States since being members of the Extension Agreement, and therefore they can be designated in a European patent application: Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.
  • After the grant of the patent, the owner must obtain national validation in each designated state. This usually requires translations into the national languages. After validation, the European patent is governed in each state by its national laws.
  • Oppositions against the grant of the patent may be filed by third parties and are to be discussed before the opposition divisions of the European Patent Office. At the conclusion of such procedure, the Office may maintain the patent as granted, modify its extent or revoke it. Such decision may be appealed before the Board of Appeal within the European Patent Office.

 

Ownership of a European patent:

 

  • Any natural or legal person of Italian or foreign nationality

 

Priority:

 

  • It is possible to claim the priority of the first patent application filed in one of the member States of the Paris Convention or of WTO within 12 months from the filing date of that first application.
  • More than one priority can be claimed.

 

Duration and maintenance of the European patent:

 

  • The European patent has a duration of 20 years.
  • Starting from the third year, an application maintenance fee is required and it can be paid to the European Patent Office.
  • After the grant of the patent, national maintenance fees are to be annually paid in each designated state.