The “European Patent” as we know it today originated in the late 1970’s.

This is when various states agreed to harmonise patent examination and granting laws through a treaty called the “European Patent Convention” (EPC) and establishing the European Patent Office (EPO) to examine and grant patents according to a common standard.

Full members of the system are called “contracting states” and today membership extends to 38 individual countries, including all of the EU.

However, in addition to these core “contracting” states, there are also mechanisms for other countries to sign up to parts of the EPC without agreeing to the entire set of regulations that go with it.

Essentially, a country might decide that they trust an EPO examiner to carry out a search and make a decision to grant a patent based on assessing topics like novelty and inventive step, but there may be some problems with some of the wider administrative provisions and regulations.

The system is open for new countries to join, and this month a new agreement with Georgia came into force.  The EPO’s announcement can be seen here.

With this addition, a European Patent can now be extended to a total of 45 countries.

Note that this addition is not retrospective: Georgia will only be available for new filings with a filing date (based on direct EPO filing date or International (PCT) filing date on or after 15 January 2024 when the agreement came into force.

In addition to Georgia, the additional countries available are Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia, Cambodia (technically called “validation” states), and also Bosnia & Herzegovina (technically called an “extension” state).

This is in addition to the core states listed below, which cover most of Europe, including all EU member states.

Get in touch if you need to discuss filing strategies and the best way to use the European Patent system!

 

Core “contracting” EPC states

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, United Kingdom.

Peter McBride

 

At Scintilla, we help innovative companies get a grip on their intellectual property. Our unique commercial approach combines registration of patents and trade marks with strategic input so that IP can be a springboard for business growth. If you would like to discuss your IP needs, do contact us or book a free initial consultation!