The Convention on the Grant of European Patents (EPC) came into force on October 7, 1977, and European patent applications could be filed since June 1, 1978. The Convention allows the filing of one patent application with an automatic designation of all Contracting States.
The following 38 States have ratified the Convention: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, 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.
Extension of a European Patent is possible for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.
Validation of a European Patent is possible in Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia as of December 1, 2017 and in Cambodia as of March 1, 2018.
- Convention on the grant of European Patents (European Patent Convention) of October 5, 1973, as revised by the Act revising Article 63 EPC of December 17, 1991, and the Act revising the EPC of November 29, 2000.
- Implementing Regulations to the Convention on the grant of European Patents of October 5, 1973, as last amended by Decision of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation of October 14, 2015.
- Request for grant of a European Patent, signed by the applicant(s) or the representative(s), not legalized;
- Designation of inventor signed by the applicant(s) or the representative(s);
- Specification and claims in English, French or German, 1 copy on A4 paper (size: 29.7 cm x 21 cm), minimum margins: top of the sheets: 2 cm, left side: 2.5 cm, right side: 2 cm, bottom: 2 cm, all sheets numbered consecutively at the top, but not in the top margin. Typing should be 1 1/2 spaced in characters, the capitals of which are not less than 0.21 cm high;
- Drawings: 1 copy on white paper, size A4, usable surface area not exceeding 26.2 cm x 17 cm;
- Abstract, not more than 150 words, 1 copy;
- Priority document, if necessary, with a translation in English, French or German;
- Information on prior art.
Where to file: The European patent application may be filed (a) at the European Patent Office in Munich, at its branch in The Hague, or at one of its sub-offices in Berlin, Vienna or Brussels; or (b) if the law of a Contracting State so permits or prescribes, at the central Industrial Property Office of that State.
Official languages: English, French and German. Residents of a Contracting State having another language may file an application in that language, and supply, within one month, a translation into one of the official EPO languages.
Designation of the contracting states: All Contracting States are automatically designated when filing. One designation fee for designating all States (effective since 2009).
Duration and renewal: Duration is twenty years from the date of filing. Renewal fees for the third year and each subsequent year must be paid to the EPO for European patent applications. After the publication of the mention of the grant, further renewal fees have to be paid separately in each designated Contracting State according to the national patent laws.
Effects of a granted patent: A granted European patent shall confer in each Contracting State for which it is granted the same rights as would be conferred by a national patent.
National Phase: All Contracting States have enacted provisions, that if the text of a European patent is not drawn up in one of the official national languages, a translation of the text must be supplied. The translations must be filed in the respective designated Contracting States within three months (six months in Ireland) after the publication of the mention of the grant. However, since the entry into force of the "London Agreement", countries that have an official language that is also an official language of the EPO (i.e. English, French or German) will no longer require the translation of a European patent, even if the language in which the patent is granted is not an official language of the country. Other countries can choose one of the official languages as a "prescribed language" into which European patents will have to be translated in order to enter into force in their country.
Opposition: Within nine months from the publication of the granting decision, any person (except the patent owner) may give notice to the EPO of opposition to the patent granted.