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Guide for applicants, Part 1: How to get a European patent

 
 
I.
Introduction 
1
This Guide outlines the provisions relevant to the filing of European patent applications, offering practical advice to smooth the way to a European patent. It cannot, however, go into the details or specific issues of the European patent grant procedure, and it does not constitute an official commentary on the European Patent Convention (EPC). 
If you need more detailed information, you are advised to consult the "Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office", a comprehensive guide to every stage of the grant procedure and to EPO practice. 
The charts in Annexes I and VI to the present Guide illustrate the course of the grant procedure and the time limits applicants have to observe. 
2
In the right-hand margin you will find references to the provisions of the EPC, the Implementing Regulations and the Rules relating to Fees, and to passages from the Guidelines and the Official Journal (OJ) of the EPO. You are strongly advised to consult the works in question before taking any decisions in practice.
The authentic texts of the EPC and the Guidelines are given in two EPO publications, the European Patent Convention and the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office. We also refer you to the decisions and notices published by the EPO in its Official Journal and on its website (www.epo.org). You should ensure that you use the latest edition of these or any of the other publications mentioned in this Guide.
A selection of important decisions of the EPO boards of appeal (see points 197-207) is published in the OJ and on the EPO website. We recommend that you consult the relevant decisions when questions regarding the interpretation of particular EPC provisions arise. The boards' decisions are also recorded on the Espace Legal CD-ROM. The Case Law of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO contains brief summaries of selected decisions and makes it easier to find the relevant ones.
The most important sources for European patent law and EPO practice, along with much other useful information, are accessible on the Internet via the EPO website (www.epo.org).
3
As in any other patent grant procedure, you need to be thoroughly familiar with patent matters if you are to steer your way successfully through the European route. So if you lack the requisite experience, we advise you to consult a professional representative before the EPO (see points 58-66).
4
The EPO brochure entitled National law relating to the EPC contains detailed information on the regulations and requirements governing European patent applications and patents in the contracting states. A valuable supplement to this Guide, it is obtainable free of charge from the EPO and can also be downloaded from the EPO website (www.epo.org).