An inventor has the right to claim ownership of that idea if it has been officially recognised and patented. This will prohibit others from making, using or selling that invention. Through a patent an inventor will have the opportunity to pursue patent protection for the invention described and claimed.
How should an invention be patented?
To obtain the grant of a patent, one must file an application at a patent office which has the jurisdiction to grant a patent in the geographic area in which coverage is required. This includes the national patent offices or a regional body, such as the European Patent Office (EPO).
What is the process to file a patent with the EPO?
A Patent attorney needs to provide:
(a) Request for a patent
(b) Details of the applicant
(c) Invention Description
(e) Drawings (if any)
Upon filing the application is given a filing date, also known as the priority date, followed by a formalities examination to ensure that the documentation is correct and complete.
A search report is drawn up by the EPO listing, based on the claims for novelty. The description provided and any drawings may be taken into account. The report will often include an initial opinion on the patentability of the invention.
The application is published 18 months after the filing date and will be listed in the relevant databases. It will act as prior art against any future patent applications.
Subsequently, an additional six months are provided for an inventor to make two decisions:
(a) Whether to continue with the application and request a more thorough examination; and
(b) If so in which countries to designate the patent protection.
Upon a request for substantive examination the EPO will decide whether the application meets the requirements of the European Patent Convention, particularly in terms of the novelty and inventive step. A dialogue between the examiners and the inventor’s patent attorney is held, which may result in re-drafting of key parts of the application. The patent attorney will defend the application and make any amendments in response to objections raised by the examiner, however no new information may be added.
Upon a decision to grant a patent, the EPO will issue a communication with the intention to grant the patent. A four month deadline will be set to complete the grant phase by paying the grant fee and filing the translations of the claims.
Once the grant phase is complete, the decision is reported in the European Patent Bulletin, effective from the date of publication of the decision.