inovia‘s Small Business Solutions Team works with startups and solo inventors across the globe to assist with the international patent filing process. Led by inovia‘s Senior Patent Attorney, Jeff Shieh, the team walks patent applicants through the stages necessary to gain international patent protection and, ultimately, how to proceed in doing so. As one might expect, we hear many of the same recurring questions from our clients, so we sat down with Jeff to compile a list of these frequently asked questions:
Europe has always been one of our clients’ most popular and important filing destinations. By filing into the European Patent Office (EPO), the applicant can eventually obtain patent protection in up to 40 countries and extension states. An additional benefit of filing in the EPO is that you can delay your decision on which European countries you ultimately want patent protection in until after grant of the patent. Therefore, the applicant often has several years to research their potential markets in Europe.
The process of registering your granted European patent into the individual countries where it will ultimately be enforceable is called validation. Since your patent has been granted by the EPO at this stage, your patent will not undergo any further substantive examination in the patent offices of the individual countries. Validation is an entirely administrative step.
Below is a timeline of the validation process.
Grant of your European patent begins with the issuance of the Notice of Intent to Grant, or the 71(3) Communication. You have 4 months after issuance of the Notice to translate the claims into French and German (assuming your application was originally filed in English) and pay the print and grant fees to the EPO. Shortly thereafter, the EPO will issue the Decision to Grant and publish the grant of your patent in the European Patent Register. You then have 3 months from the publication date to validate your patent.
The specific validation steps vary from country to country. The London Agreement has significantly reduced the requirements (and expense) of validation for its member states. For certain London Agreement countries, validation is automatic, requiring no further translations or forms. Other London Agreement countries may require translation of just the claims. Validation for non-London Agreement countries can be much more involved. For these countries, validation can entail translation of the entire patent into their official language. As you can imagine, seeking broader patent protection in Europe can mean substantially higher validation costs.
You’ll find additional information on country-specific validation requirements in our European validation e-kit.
Our foreign filing platform, inovia.com, provides a simple solution for European validation. Simply register for a free account for the ability to validate your European patent in up to 38 countries with just one instruction.