The European Patent Office
The European Patent office (EPO) is headquartered in Munich with an important search unit in The Hague. At the present time there are 34 countries falling under the EPO umbrella (plus four extension states) and possible expansion in the future. Applications can be filed in the EPO directly, or under the first or second phases of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). For US applicants, an EPO application is usually filed by the 30th month after priority (usually the U.S. filing date). Fees must be paid for each named country. The entire examination phase usually takes about 2-3 years, but can be more or less.
When the EPO examiner has determined what claims will be allowed, the application goes to grant, but before this happens, it must be translated into the languages of the countries finally selected (as in PCT, one can drop initially named countries but one cannot add to them).
After grant the application immediately becomes a national patent in the selected countries but for 9 months it is open to central attack (opposition) in Munich. As with patents in most countries, annual fees must be paid in each country to maintain validity of the patent there.
E-Mail (Use Subject Line: "new idea"): email@example.com
Voice: 973 463-0100 -- Fax: 973 463-0150
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