The European Patent – key to your technologies’ success on the European market
As we know, patents can provide a very valuable commercial advantage for your technologies on the market. Patents provide a monopoly over the technology in a given country, as they forbid other persons to use and sell this technology without permission. This legal protection is crucial for an invention’s commercial success. The EU internal market is one of the largest and richest in the world and breaking through on that market can bring significant revenues. The question is, how to secure patent protection in Europe and in this way, facilitate market success? First, it must be noted that patents are territorial in nature – they are only valid on the territory they were issued for. There is still no European unitary patent – which means that patent protection must be secured in each country. In addition, patenting is a one-time affair – it can only be done once, when the product is still new, i.e. before the product’s introduction to the market or other disclosure to the public. There are broadly two ways of achieving the desired pan-European protection. It’s possible to file national patent applications in each state. This is usually not practical, as it is connected with high expenses – the applicant has to pay application fees in each national Patent Office, as well as hire a separate adviser to handle the procedure in each individual country. Moreover, each procedure will have different deadlines to pay attention to and will be in its own local language, requiring communication and coordination with multiple people in the different countries of interest. This creates administrative burden and also increases the possibilities for making a mistake along the way. The better option is to use the European Patent system. It makes it possible to achieve Europe-wide protection at a lower cost and with less administrative burden. With only one application to the European Patent Office, filed by one representative, it is possible to receive patent protection in up to 44 countries, including all EU countries and the UK. There is just one application procedure that you can dedicate your attention to, and where there are any issues, you can discuss them with your adviser in one language. When the European Patent Office grants a patent, this creates national patents in the member states of the European Patent Convention. These are automatically valid for some states such as the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, and for others, such as Italy and Spain, a translation in the local language must be deposited with the local Patent Office first. In addition, it is possible to extend the patent protection to several non-European countries – Morrocco, Tunisia and Cambodia. Separately, it should be noted that there are some European countries which are not parts of the European Patent system, notably Ukraine, Russia and Belarus – protection should be sought in these countries via separate avenues. Whenever you have created something new and think that it could be a patentable invention, it is of paramount importance to consult an experienced patent attorney early on in the process, in order to prepare a Patent strategy, including using the European Patent. Patenting can only be done once, it involves complex legal and technical matters and there can be significant expenses. Without due care, it is possible to lose the right to obtain a patent and the commercial advantage it brings – in such a situation, the expenses incurred would be in vain. Contact Dr. Emil Benatov & Partners to receive expert advice on European Patents from our experienced team.