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Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office

What is a patent / what is a European patent?

Patents systems were devised to encourage innovation. While each country has its own patent laws, the same basic principles are applied throughout the world. A patent is a legal title granting the patent proprietor the exclusive right to prevent others from manufacturing, selling, using or importing the patented invention in a specified country or group of countries.

The European patent is an essential step towards establishment of the unified patent system in the Member States of the EPC. With one unique European patent application, drafted in only one official language (English, French or German) and filed in one filing office, the steps of the grant procedure (publication and examination of the application) can be unified. Once granted by the European Patent Office, the European patent becomes a bundle of national patents in accordance with designations chosen by the Applicant when the application was filed. It is to be emphasised that at the present time, all granted patents are limited in extent to the territory of a national designation, eg Germany or the UK. There is as yet no single patent for the EU, nor indeed a single 'world' patent.