European patent and utility model granting
Upon domestic application filing, within the ensuing 12 months, a motion may be filed with the European Patent Office (EPO).
Once a motion has been filed, within the ensuing one month, application and investigation fees shall be paid to the bank account of the European Patent Office (EPO).
The procedure of European patent granting is phased and consists in separating the investigation phase from the full search. That gives the applicant the possibility of taking a decision, based on the investigation report and the accompanying opinion on patentability, whether the full search is to be conducted, and thus whether to incur further costs related to seeking patent protection.
Phase 1: An investigation report is preparted on the basis of patent objections, including those relatedcto the description and drawings. The report enumerates the documents available at the EPO on the date of reporting, which may be taken into account while assessing whether the assessed item is novel and how inventive it is. Once the investigation report has been prepared, it is sent to the applicant, alongside copies of the documents referred to in the report, and a written opinion on patentability, which is prepared on the basis of the investigation report. That part of the procedure finishes after 18 months – since the priority date – with publication of the European patent application.
Phase 2: (substantive examination) is held only upon request of the applicant and comprises both full search and patent granting. Within six months since the European patent application publication, along with the European investigation report, the applicant is obliged to make the relevant fee payments for the search, for indicating one or more member states, as well as for having the application subsist (for the third year).
Once all the aforementioned fees have been paid, the second phase of the procedure commences, i.e. the substantive examination (the so-called full search), aimed at checking whether a given invention meets all the requirements of the European Patent Convention in terms of its patentability.
If the EPO acknowledges that the application and the invention being subject of the application meet the requirements of the Convention, the EPO take a decision on patent granting. The applicant is supposed to make the patent granting fee, including the amount charged for patent description printing.
Following European patent granting, within three months since the publication of patent granting notification, the patent description should be translated and submitted in the countries where the invention is to be protected, as well as to make the fee payment for the print-out and publication, according to the fee tabulation in a given country, and to periodically make such fee payments for the ensuing years of patent protection.
At the same time, once a patent has been granted, the annual fees cease to be paid to the EPO for having the application subsist.