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

 
 
Legal factors
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A European patent is granted after an examination designed to establish whether the European patent application and the invention to which it relates comply with the patentability requirements of the EPC. 
These requirements are the basis not only for the granting of a European patent, but also for the assessment of its validity by national courts. In addition, under the EPC the extent of the protection conferred by the European patent is determined uniformly for all the contracting states. 
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The examination procedure is conducted by the EPO departments of first instance (Receiving Section, search divisions and examining divisions); if they decide against your application, you can file an appeal before the boards of appeal of the EPO. Once a European patent has been granted, there follows a nine-month period in which third parties are entitled to file a reasoned notice of opposition; and at the end of the resulting opposition proceedings, either the patent is maintained as granted or as amended or it is revoked. The decision taken in the opposition proceedings can also be appealed.  
Once it has been granted, you can file a request for limitation or revocation of your own patent. 
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European patents have a uniform wording and a uniform extent of protection for all designated contracting states (but see points 91 and 102) and offer a high presumption of validity.
Patent law in the contracting states has been extensively harmonised with the EPC in terms of patentability requirements. However, as grant procedures continue to be differently structured and are conducted in parallel by several offices, the national route generally leads to national rights with differing extents of protection.