(WIPO code: EP) (last revised October 2019)

by KATZAROV S.A., Patent & Trademark Attorneys, European Patent Attorneys, Geneva, Switzerland

General Information

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 revised European Patent Convention 2000 (EPC 2000) was adopted by decision of the Administrative Council of June 28, 2001, and entered into force on December 13, 2007. The language agreement (“London Agreement”) entered into force on May 1, 2008.

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, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The EPC constitutes a special agreement within the meaning of the Paris Convention; it is also a regional patent treaty within the meaning of Art. 45 of the PCT. All member States of the EPC have ratified the PCT.

A European patent confers on its proprietor, in each Contracting State for which it is granted, the same rights as would be conferred by a national patent granted in that State. Any infringement of a European Patent will be dealt with by national laws.

The creation of the European patent granting procedure does not affect the existence of the national granting procedures. In seeking patent protection in one or more Contracting States, the applicant therefore has the choice between the national procedure in each State for which he desires protection, and the European option which, in a single procedure, confers protection in all designated Contracting States (except under PCT, where only the European option exists for BE, CY, FR, GR, IE, IT, LV, MC, MT, NL and SI). However, identical European and national patents are not allowed in most States.

Euro-PCT: the EPO will act as a Receiving, Designated, and Elected Office and as an International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authority under the PCT.  Time limits for entering the regional phase under PCT Chapters I and II are 31 months.

Extension of a European Patent: possible for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro into the Co-operation and Extension Agreement.

Validation of a European Patent: possible in Morocco as of March 1, 2015, in Moldova as of November 1, 2015, in Tunisia as of December 1, 2017 and in Cambodia as of March 1, 2018.

* Text of the European Patent Convention, see: Convention part of Manual, under “Regional Conventions”, European Patent Convention.