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Registering Patents in Europe – European Patents

Registering patents in Europe can be done by applying for a general European patent or by filing to register an individual patent in each European country. In other words, it is possible to file one single European patent to be examined by one examiner for all European countries.

It is possible, when filing a European patent, to deal with only one patent examiner. This way, the inventor avoids having to deal with multiple patent examiners, and also saves the cost of correspondence with a number of examiners. However, it is important to know that only the initial application and examination is collective for a European patent: after the examination process, if the patent examiner fundamentally agrees to grant a patent, the European patent applicant must decide in which European countries he wants to receive a registered patent certificate. He then must pay fees to each of those countries, and the European patent will be valid only in those countries.

An alternative that exists for inventors is to initially apply for individual patents in different European countries from the outset. One disadvantage to this route is that each country’s patent examiner will examine the patent. As a result, even if the inventor only applies to three or four countries, it may be more financially viable to apply for a single European patent. If the inventor submits patents in fewer countries, the economic criterion should be considered and may be preferable to file separately in a limited number of different European countries.

Other advantages exist to filing individual patent applications. Wider protection may be granted in certain European countries, which is possible because the different patent examiners use their discretion differently, and may be lenient when considering different points of the patent application, compared to a European patent examiner who must respect all European countries.

Each individual case should be checked on its own merits by a patent attorney, as the details above are partial and incomplete. Strategies and tactics should be checked and tailored to each individual invention and inventor.
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