Patents in Europe

European coverage

A European patent can be effective in the member countries of the European Patent Convention, in particular in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, etc.

Filing in Europe

When filing an application in Europe it is necessary to indicate the contact details of the applicant(s), and inventor(s), as well as the information relating to priority.

Your invention will therefore be protected in Europe for all the member countries as of the date your patent application is filed with the European Patent Office (EPO). This protection will only be validated when the patent is granted.

European search report

The production of a search report is a decisive step in the procedure, since it makes it possible to assess the patentability of your invention with regard to the state of the art. The European search report lists the documents (patent applications, patents, scientific articles, or any type of publication) that are identical, similar or close to your invention and have been put in the public domain, or filed, before the filing date of your patent application. These documents are commonly called “prior-art documents”. The search is carried out based on an international repository of documents by the EPO (the European Patent Office).

The European search report is accompanied by a written opinion on the patentability, which presents the examiner’s objections that argue against a patent being granted as it stands.

ARGYMA analyses the documents of the search report, and scrutinises the examiner’s written opinion. If necessary, i.e. if relevant prior-art documents are cited in the preliminary search report, ARGYMA prepares and files with the EPO a response defending the patentability of the invention. This must be submitted to the EPO within 6 months of the European search report being published.

The response will consist of comments on the relevance of the prior-art documents cited and/or provide modifications to your claims.

Publication of the patent application

Your patent application must be published by the EPO and is therefore made public 18 months after its initial filing. The publication also concerns the European search report if it is already available.

In some cases, such as the suspicion that a third party (competitor or possible counterfeiter) is exploiting your invention, it may be useful to request early publication of the patent application to assert your patent rights earlier. In that case, your application can be published before the end of the 18-month period. This request for early publication can be made to the EPO at any time.


If the European examiner has objections to the patentability of your invention, ARGYMA is sent an official communication listing the examiner’s objections. The European examiner generally sets a response time-limit of 4 months, and it is possible to request a 2-month extension.

ARGYMA prepares and submits a response to the examiner’s objections that defends the patentability of the invention. If necessary, oral proceedings (generally by videoconferencing) can be organised with the examiner to enable effective and constructive discussions.


When the conditions for patentability are met, the EPO transmits the text it intends to issue, and an invitation to pay a grant fee and provide a translation of the granted claims in French, English and German. These actions must be carried out within 4 months of the invitation.

After these actions have been completed, the text of the patent (including the claims) is fixed. Therefore, the actual grant takes place at this stage. The EPO publishes the notice of grant and sends us a copy of your patent indicating, among others, the national number of your filing. Congratulations, you now have your patent!

Validation in the member states

Within 3 months of your patent being granted in Europe, it is necessary to select the European countries in which you want your European patent to enter into force. Depending on the country, it can be necessary to pay the fees and/or provide translations of the entire patent or only of the claims.


The opposition procedure makes it possible, without initiating legal proceedings, for any third party to contest fully or partially the granting of a patent by the EPO. The aim is to make it easier to challenge titles that appear invalid.

The right of opposition makes it possible for any third party to request the partial or total revocation of a granted patent which it considers invalid with regard to the conditions for granting a patent, namely, in particular:

  • novelty: the technical solution presented must not form part of the state of the art available at the time of filing;
  • inventive step: it must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art in the light of the state of the art;
  • industrial applicability;
  • not be excluded from patentability by law (e.g. scientific discoveries).

The opponent can also file an opposition if the invention is not sufficiently described in the patent.

The time-limit for filing opposition is 9 months following publication of the notice of grant.

Following proceedings before the EPO involving both parties, the patent can be revoked partially or totally, or maintained in amended form or identical to the initial filing. This decision can be referred to an EPO Board of Appeal.