How to apply for a European patent (part 2/4)

von Dr. Meyer-Dulheuer & Partners LLP

In our last blog post we informed you about some preliminary considerations and outlined some important definitions. Now it should be clear where we're heading. So today let's have a look at some research you'll have to do before actually applying and how to file the application properly. This is part 2 of our four-part blog series on how to apply for a European patent.

1. Before applying: Heading in the right direction and doing your research

A fundamental thing is to make sure that patent law really applies for your innovation. The different kinds of protective rights get easily mixed up:

  • A patent defends technical innovations such as process technologies, devices or products from being used by third parties.
  • A utility model, sometimes also referred to as the “little patent”, protects technical innovations just as a patent does, but it’s granted faster and less checked.
  • Copyright law saves the right of use and exploitation for the originators of creative works (like literary works or music compositions).
  • An unmistakable sign, which serves the identification of products and services, can be protected as a trademark, which can consist of the following two- or three dimensional components: letters, numbers, words, shapes, colors, logos or pictures.

After you’ve made sure that a patent really is the right thing, make clear to yourself in which countries you can benefit the most from applying for a patent. Patents are valid in individual countries for a defined protection period, which mostly varies around 20 years, and are granted by a patent office. If your invention shall be protected only in a few countries, it might be best to directly file your application at the respective patent offices. But if you aim for protection in all countries of Europe, the EP patent is the right choice ...

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