European Patent Application System and Accelerated Procedure

  1. European patents (44 Parties)
  2. Established in 1973 under the European Patent Convention, the European Patent Office uses a uniform procedure for examining patent applications, which are granted and validated in member states. Applications can be made in one of the three official languages (English, French and German).  

• Including:

38 member States:Albania,Austria,Belgium,Bulgaria,Switzerland,Cyprus,Czech Republic,Germany, Denmark,Estonia,Spain,Finland,France,Britain,Greece,Croatia,Hungary,Ireland,Iceland,Italy, Liechtenstein,Republic of Lithuania,Luxembourg,Latvia,Monaco,Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,Malta, Netherlands,Norway, Poland,Portugal, Rumania, Serbia, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, San Marino,Turkey

Two extended states:Bosnia and Herzegovina,Montenegro

Four States in force:Republic of Moldova,Morocco, Tunisia,Cambodia

2.European patent application process


Direct application:

The deadline for submission of the Paris Convention route is 12 months from the priority date.

PCT channels are submitted within 31 months from the priority date.

Formal examination:

The European Patent Office (EPO) conducts a formal examination of the application documents and, if there are no formal defects, it will go to the retrieval stage.  

European Patent Office search

The European Search Report sets out the results of the commission's search of prior art, together with a search opinion. The search report and the search opinion are collectively called the Extended European Search Report(EESR).The report contains an opinion on the patentability of the invention, that is, a detailed comment on whether the patent application meets the substantive licensing conditions (singleness, clarity, novelty, creativity, etc.). After receiving the European search report, if the applicant decides to continue the application process, he/she must enter the substantive examination stage by paying the designated fee and review fee, filing a substantive examination request and replying to the search opinion (no reply is required if the search opinion is completely positive) within six months of the publication of the European Search report.  

Publication of patent application

It will be announced 18 months from the priority date

Substantive examination

The European Patent Office (EPO) conducts a substantive examination of the patent application's prospects for granting it. Applicants are required to respond within 4 months of receiving the notice of review, and the response can be extended by two months.   

European patent Licensing

The examination Department of the EPO shall, before deciding to grant a patent, send a notice of intention to grant the patent, enclosing the text of the patent to be granted and the relevant descriptive information, and invite the applicant to pay the notice fee for authorization within four months from the date of service of the notice and submit a translation of the claims in the other two official languages of the EPO  

Patent goes into effect:

Select the effective country within 3 months from the date of authorization announcement and pay the effective country's effective fee and the official language translation fee  

Countries that need no translation:

Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Great Britain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein  

Countries where claim translation is required:

Croatia, Denmark, Slovenia, Finland, Netherlands, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Norway, Sweden, Albania  

Countries requiring to translate the authorization text in full:

Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Slovakia, Spain, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, SAN Marino, Turkey, Serbia

3. Matters needing attention:

1). At present, the following member states of the European Patent Organization decide to designate or select their country's PCT application to enter only the European area phase and not the member state phase:France, Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus, Monaco, Latvia. Other member states decide to designate or select their country's PCT application to enter both the European area phase and the member state phase.

2). The period for PCT applications to enter the European area phase is 31 months from the earliest priority date.If this period is missed, the EPO will issue a notice of loss of rights, which may be remedied by a request for "further processing" within two months after the notice is sent, at additional cost.  

3). The designation fee of 610 euro only includes the designation fee of the initial 38 member states, excluding the designation fee of the extended countries and the countries in force.  If the customer's target country includes these 6 countries, there is an additional designation fee.

4).The maintenance fee shall be paid to the EPO from the third year of the application date until the current year of the authorization, after which the annual fee shall be paid to the Patent Office of each member State. For PCT entry into Europe, the annual fee is calculated from the international application date

4.Expedited procedures for European patents:

1)Early Entry into the European Area Phase of PCT applications:

The EPO will not process applications for the European phase before the end of 31 months. Therefore, the applicant can submit a request for Early processing to the EPO to request early processing. Otherwise, the EPO will process PCT applications after the end of 31 months.  

2)PACE Programme for Accelerated Prosecution of European patent applications:

Only one PACE request can be submitted in the retrieval phase and one in the review phase. At present, the retrieval process of the European Patent Office has been significantly accelerated, so there is little need for a PACE request in the retrieval phase. We generally recommend that PACE requests be submitted during the review phase.

3)Waiving the Communication under Rules 161 and 162 EPC:

For applications entering the European stage through the PCT route, applicants can opt out of receiving active amendment notices, thereby saving up to 6 months of waiting time.

4.Patent Prosecution Highway(PPH) 

•Paris Convention PPH  

If the applicant has a patent application of the same family in the country or region where the PPH agreement is signed with the European Patent Office, and the country or region's Patent Office considers that there is an authorized claim, the applicant may consider submitting the PPH request to the European Patent Office based on the relevant requirements of the European Patent Office.  


A PCT-PPH request may be submitted to the EPO on the basis of the results of the work of the PCT at the international stage when the results of the examination by the International Search Unit/international Preliminary Examination Unit determine that there is an authorizable claim.  

It is now common practice in the EPO that even if an applicant submits a PPH request, the EPO examiner tends to conduct an independent search and review. As a result, the PPH approach tends to be less effective in speeding up European patent applications.

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