For the next installment of our ongoing series entitled “Monitoring Patent Costs”, I’d like to detail the European validation process. For most countries, the process of getting a patent is simple. File the application, overcome any rejections during examination, pay the appropriate fees and the patent office will issue your patent enforceable within their borders. Getting a patent in the European countries, however, can be a little more complicated.
Of course, if you file your application directly into a European country, the process is the same as the one described above. However, there is an additional step known as validation if you file an application with the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO will examine the application and grant a patent once the application has satisfied the requirements for patentability. However, the EPO does not issue a blanket patent that covers all of Europe. Instead, the applicant needs to validate the patent into the individual countries where protection is desired.
For some countries (France, Germany, UK, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein), validation is automatic and no further action is required. We do recommend that the applicant at least register an address for service in those countries to receive communications from the local patent office.
In other countries, validation can be a bit more involved. There can be additional fees and forms and translations may be required of the claims or of the entire patent document.
The cost of validation can vary greatly depending on the number of European countries that the patent is validated into. If the applicant only wants protection in the automatic countries, validation costs are relatively minimal. If the applicant wants broad European protection, the validation costs will increase significantly. It is estimated that validating a patent throughout Europe can cost approximately 30,000 EUR, a large portion of that coming from translation expenses.
Europe is currently working on creating a unified patent system which will cover 25 countries and reduce validation costs by up to 80%. However, this system is not yet in place and probably will not be for at least a year.
Do you have a European application nearing the validation stage? One of the services inovia offers is European patent validation and our clients typically save up to 50% on their validation costs. If you haven’t registered yet for an account, you can do so here. Once registered, you can log onto our portal which offers a 1-click validation estimate tool to generate an instant, accurate quote for your EP patent. Download a copy of our European validation guide if you’d like more information.