A regional patent application is a patent application that is filed with a central organisation for different countries. The application filed by means of a central granting procedure will result in a collection of national patents.
The European Patent Convention regulates the application and granting of European patents and the European Patent Office implements this. The European Patents Office grants patents every week. The procedure takes 4 years on average and results in a patent that is examined for content against the requirements of novelty, an inventive step and industrial application. It is also possible to apply for a regional patent in Africa, South-East Asia and part of the former Soviet Union. In february 2013, the Convention on a Unified Patent Court has been signed. Soon it will be possible to apply for a Unitary patent with which an invention can be protected across the entire European Community with a single patent application.
The European procedure begins at the European Patent Office. Your application is filed in English, German or French, the 3 official languages of the European Patent Office. Once the application has been filed, an international novelty search is carried out. This search checks the application against the requirements of novelty, the inventive step and industrial application.
The application and the search report are published 18 months following the date on which the application was filed. If the patent is granted, it is registered in the patent register of each country for which the patent has been applied for. You must submit translations in the national language of each of these countries for this purpose.
European patents in the Netherlands
The Patent Act 1995 and the accompanying Implementation Decree impose obligations upon the owners of European patents. In the Patent Act 1995, a European patent is deemed to be a patent granted pursuant to the European Patents Convention by the European Patents Office, which is valid in the Netherlands.
A European patent has the same legal consequences in the Netherlands and is governed by the same law as a patent granted pursuant to the Patent Act 1995 by the Netherlands Patent Office, a department of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. The grant date of the European patent is the date on which the grant is published in the 'European Patent Bulletin' of the European Patent Office. However, before a patent can be granted, the application procedure for a European patent will involve:
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