Are you new to patents?

Before filing a patent application there are plenty of questions to ask yourself, and there’s lots of free information to explore. This section provides some tips and suggests further sources of help and advice.*

Getting started

This section will help you to prepare before filing a patent application. Patents protect some innovations, but not others. You should be sure you are ready before embarking on the application process that could take several years, whilst you also grow your market and raise investment.

Picture of lightbulb

What’s your big idea?

Innovation takes many forms, and different intellectual property rights might suit you better. We present a variety of ideas – find the one which most closely matches yours to learn if it is patentable.

Three figures looking at a patent document with magnifying glasses

Are you ready?

A successful outcome starts with good preparation. So ask yourself these seven vital questions to check you are ready for what lies ahead, and to help you plan your patent strategy.

An image of binoculars

What to expect

You’ve invented a new product or process. So what comes next? How does the patenting process work? What will be expected of you and what rights could a patent provide in return?

A cartoon of EPO's headquarters and a patent application

How to apply for a patent – step-by-step

Use the flowchart and explanations to understand the process and how to spread costs. Plan each step for the months ahead. How you respond can impact the timing and success of your application.

Dive deeper

This section helps you to consider the costs and value of a patent, what the criteria are to be granted a patent, and whether someone already invented the same thing before. Patents are arguably the world’s best knowledge transfer system since the Renaissance and still going strong!

Your business and patents

Does your business need patents? Which markets might want your invention? Application fees, translation costs, foreign filings… how much might it all cost? But how much might it be worth?

Learn more

Is it patentable?

Patents are granted for technical inventions that are new, not obvious and useful. So the first rule: keep it secret prior to filing your application! But not everything that is new necessarily qualifies for a patent. We explain what’s patentable and what’s not.

Learn more

Are you the first?

Are similar inventions to yours already in the patent databases? A good search can help you differentiate your technology from predecessors’, identify potential customers and inspire your own research.

Learn more

Why do we have patents?

Innovation takes a variety of forms. Patents are just one of several tools that policymakers use to encourage innovation. Let’s look at the alternatives to better understand why patents exist.

Learn more

Explore further

How well do you know Europe’s patent system?

A figure looking at a document with a magnifying glass and a question mark above.

Patent quiz

Take our fun quick quiz and test your knowledge! Can you tell fact from fiction? Truth from myth?

Unitary patent

Saving costs and complexity for European patents

See also

Are you planning a business around inventions and patents? Use our free handbook, case studies and guides for inspiration.

Inventors HandbookInnovation case studies Support for high-growth technology businesses European Inventor AwardDeep Tech Finder

More advice

Visit these free resources on patent knowledge and intellectual property and learn how they can support innovation and business.

PATLIB networkEUIPO - for trade marks and designEuropean IP Helpdesk

The general information on these pages and videos provides only a broad overview and is not comprehensive. It is not a substitute for legal advice specific to your own needs, nor should it be relied upon exclusively. You should consult a qualified professional (for example a European patent attorney) before taking any actions that could impact your business.