The administrative body that grants European Patents is called European Patent Office (EPO) located in Munich, its branch at The Hague and its sub-office in Berlin, Brussels and Vienna. EPO’s centralised and thus cost-effective and time-saving European Patent grant procedure is conducted in either one of its three official languages – English, French or German.
EPC is an open filing patent system, which means that any person may file a European Patent application, irrespective of whether he is a national of or has his residence or place of business in a contracting state of the EPC. A European Patent application may also be filed by joint applicants or by two or more applicants designating different contracting states.
European patents are granted for inventions that are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application. An invention can belong to any field of technology.
The term of validity of a European patent is 20 years as from the date of filing of the European patent application, provided the patent renewals or maintenance fees are paid each patent year.
Protection of inventions through European Patent can be derived from two possible ways, either by filing a direct European Patent Application, or by entering EURO-PCT Phase via already filed PCT application. A European Patent Application may also be converted into national utility model registration under specific circumstances prescribed by national laws. No matter which routes are taken, assistance, advice and close collaboration with a Qualified European Patent Attorney is highly recommended and in some cases even obligatory. Such Patent Attorneys can conduct the patent drafting and EP filing and prosecution in the most professional, legally binding and efficient way.
A granted European Patent does not automatically lead to a bundle of granted patents in each designated territory. The steps to be carried out to obtain a valid patent in a designated contracting state after grant of a European patent are called EUROPEAN PATENT VALIDATIONS, for Bulgaria is called EUROPEAN PATENT VALIDATION IN BULGARIA, and should be performed within a strictly fixed deadline after the grant of the European Patent.