Process & Timeline

European (EP)

The following is an outline of the main stages in the process of obtaining a patent, from starting to write the application until grant of a patent.  It is a fairly long process and usually takes several years, the limiting factor being the time taken by patent offices to examine the vast number of applications that they receive each year.  However, there are ways for us to speed the process up and getting a patent granted within a year is not unheard of where there is an urgent need (in the UK at least).  It should also be noted that the invention is “patent pending” from the date of filing and that patent applications can be dealt with as property in the same way as granted patents.  This means they can bought, sold, licensed and mortgaged.  The following applies specifically to “first filing” patent applications – the timescales change to some extent for patent applications that are linked to one or more earlier applications.

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  • -1 month
    (1 week to 1 month, depending on urgency and the complexity of the invention)

    We will write a description of the invention in the correct format and formulate the patent claims with help from you. The description must make the invention reproducible for the skilled reader and the claims define the extent of protection that you are applying for. We ensure that the claims cover future developments and variations of your invention as far as possible. We also aim to anticipate possible objections from the patent office at this stage so that the subsequent procedure is as quick and cost effective as possible.

  • 0

    Once a final version of the text has been agreed, we file the application forms and pay the fees for filing and search. Establishing a filing date is crucial as a patent is granted to the first to file rather than the first to invent in most countries. The invention is “patent pending” from this point on.

  • 6 months
    (Around 6 months)

    The patent office searches for previous publications that are relevant to the claimed invention and sends a list of publications to us. We will assess how relevant the cited documents are and provide a summary with advice on how to proceed with the application. The search report also includes an initial opinion on whether the invention is patentable from the patent office. We will make straightforward proposals on how to respond to the opinion if necessary.

  • 12 months
    Foreign Filings

    If you wish to file patent applications in other parts of the world (or a follow-up European patent application) based on the pending application then these must all be filed by the end of 12 months from the original filing date.

  • 18 months

    The application will be published 18 months from filing. We will let you know when this is scheduled to occur.

  • 24 months
    (6 months)

    After the search report has been sent out by the patent office and published, we must respond to any objections raised in their initial opinion. Our response typically includes amendments to the patent claims to take account of the documents found in the search.

  • 24 months
    Requesting Examination

    Within the same period we are given to respond to the search report, we must pay the examination fee in order to continue with the application.We will pay the fee if you instruct us to do so. You can decide whether or not to proceed with the application based on the results of the search at this stage.

  • 30-48 months
    (Depending on the number of examination reports required, this stage can take a few years. We can speed this up if needed)

    We will receive an examination report giving a new opinion from the patent office on whether the claimed invention is patentable. A time limit, usually 4 months, is set for us to respond to the patent office’s objections with arguments and amendments.

    We will send the examination report to you with a clear explanation and advice on how to proceed. We will then respond to the patent office based on your instructions.

    We may receive further examination reports until the patent office is happy with the application as it stands. We will warn you if we think that there is little chance of obtaining a granted patent.

    If the patent office has no objections to the claimed invention then the application proceeds straight to grant without an examination report.

  • 36-60 months
    (The grant process itself takes around 6 months in Europe)

    We will handle the formalities associated with grant of the patent. There is a patent office fee to pay and we will need your instructions on which European countries to validate the patent in. At this stage, the European patent splits into a bundle of independent national patents. Translations of the patent need to be prepared for some countries. The invention is “patented” from this point on.

  • 24 months+
    (Yearly starting 24 months from filing)

    In order to keep a patent in force, a renewal fee must be paid to the patent office every year on the anniversary of filing. This also applies to the pending application from the end of the second year onwards. We will remind you when these fees are due and pay them on your behalf if you instruct us to do so. A patent can be kept in force for up to 20 years from the date of filing.