European Patent Convention (EPC)
The European Patent Office provides a centralised unitary procedure for the examination and grant of European Patents. A single patent application may be filed in one of the three Official Languages (English, German or French) with the formalities examination, substantive examination and any opposition or appeals being dealt with in a unitary manner.
The applicant may designate up to 38 states (listed below) that are contracted to the EPC, and may be extended to cover 2 'Extension States'. Following grant of the patent, it becomes a bundle of national patents with each being dealt with according to national law. Certain aspects, such as maximum term (20 years), validity and infringement, are harmonised to a European standard.
States Party to the European Patent Convention
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom
Total (38 States)
States Party to the European Patent Convention through Extension Agreements
Bosnia & Herzogovnia, Montenegro
Total (2 States)