Should I file a national, European or International patent?
It depends on the invention’s extent of use. A national patent will ensure patent’s rights only in the country you apply, while European and International patents, respectively, ensure rights in the region of Europe and in all other countries.
If you file a European patent, the patent protection will maximum cover the territory of the 38 European Patent Organisation Member States. If you file an international patent application (according to the rules of Patent Cooperation Treaty), you can extend this application to more than 150 countries.
But neither the European nor international patent applications does not grant the patent rights automatically in all the contracting states. There is no World wide patent.
There are steps and procedures to follow, to make your patent valid in different countries through the European or International way.
- For the European patent, after the patent is granted, the applicant must perform additional steps, to validate the patent in the member countries of his choice. Some countries require the full translation of the patent text to the national language (like Austria or Spain), other – only the translation of the claims (like Netherlands or Lithuania). For some countries only the national annual fees must be paid to validate the patent (like in Germany or France). The applicant must always check to which countries he wishes to validate the patent and consult the patent attorney what procedures are needed.
- For the international patent application, the applicant needs to translate the full patent text to each participating state, where he wants a patent to be granted. The national application, examination fees must also be paid to every country. The decision to issue the patent is also individual. Each patent office makes its own analysis on the patentable subject matter and criterion of patentability. It cannot be denied, that the patent offices takes into account the decisions of the other offices, nevertheless each decision is a separate action.
- The future possibility that is up yet to come is the Unitary patent. Unitary Patents will make it possible to get patent protection in up to 26 EU Member States by submitting a single request to the EPO, making the procedure simpler and more cost effective for applicants. The Unitary patent system is not yet in force. It is expected, that the start of the new system will occur in the first half of 2019. The Unitary Patent system is inextricably linked to the creation of the Unified Patent Court, which will have jurisdiction over Unitary Patents and “classic” European patents.