Since the operating principal of patent authorities is practically the same in different countries, the need of creating a common patent organization that would receiver and register documents was gradually emerging. The tendency towards economic integration and globalization has been obvious in Europe for a long time. So sixteen countries signed the European Patent Convention which led to the creation of the European Patent Office (EPO) whose functions included pendency of application for European patent issuing. To date, the number of participating countries has increased to 36.
The European patent system has significant advantages such as receiving a patent valid in several European countries and, as a consequence, a significant reduction in the costs of procedures. In addition, this system implies obtaining a legally strong patent, which is issued after the examination.
The patenting process according to EPC begins with filing an application in an applicant country with an assistance of patent attorney. The application should include participating countries on which territory it is necessary to receive a legal protection. The patent application is composed in a special letterhead of the EPO in one of the official languages (English, French, German) or in the language of one of the participating countries with a translation into one of official languages. And applicant for the European patent can be a physical person, a juridical person or a group of persons. They may be a group of co-applicants or two or more applicants indicating different countries. If the applicant does not have a permanent residence or registration in the territory of the participating countries of the convention, and if the place of business is located outside their territory then the patent applicant may be represented by a patent attorney only.
The European patent is not issued for discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods, aesthetic decisions, schemes, rules and methods of games of intellectual or economic activity, as well as computer programs and databases. The patent is also not issued for types of plants and breeds of animals and biological methods for their reproduction. Also, legal protection does not apply to surgical and therapeutic methods for treating humans or animals, although this does not apply to the substances or formulations used in these approaches and methods.
In the process of pendency of application for a European patent, a patent search and a formal examination as to form are conducted, which results in the publication of a search report and information about the application in the patent bulletin. The search report provides information on the found documents used later to determine the novelty and inventive level of the solution described in the application. Patentability is not indicated in the report. The report itself is being sent to the applicant to they get acquainted with the purpose of correction of the application in case the invention does not have a criterion of novelty or inventive level. This also allows the applicant to withdraw the application. The application materials containing the description, abstract, drawings, formulas will be published 18 months after the filing date. The temporary legal protection of the invention will begin from the date of publication.
Then, within six months, after the applicant has paid all the fees and filed a corresponding petition, the substantive examination begins. At this stage, the materials are analyzed for compliance with the criteria for patentability and the correctness of execution of application. Then, several EPC experts decide whether to grant a patent or to refuse. If the applicant agrees with the final contents of the description, the patent shall enter into force.
The right to a European patent belongs to the inventor or his successor, and in the event that the applicant is not an inventor, they must indicate the origin of the patent right. The patent comes into force from the date of publication of the notice of its issuance in the European Patent Gazette and any violation thereof is considered in accordance with national legislation. The assignment of the right to a European patent should be in writing form.