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Patent Protection in Europe

Written by Husna Bano on 14 April 2007

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Applying for a patent in the UK does not protect it elsewhere in Europe.

If your application contains information about military technology, or could harm national security or public safety, you must request permission to apply for a patent abroad. To protect your patent in more than 30 countries in Europe, you can apply using the European Patent Convention (EPC). You can apply through the European Patent Office (EPO). This is processed as a single application, but once granted it becomes separate patents in the countries you designate.

You can get protection in individual countries in Europe by applying to the national office of each country. This is advisable if you only want protection in a few countries. You should get advice from the National Patents Office of any country you want protection in.

You can claim priority from an existing patent application if you apply abroad within 12 months of your original application. Your later application will be treated as if you applied on the same date as the original application. The EPO is running a pilot Project to speed up European applications claiming priority from applications that we have already searched.

You can also get protection in Europe using the Patents Co-Operation Treaty (PCT) through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). However, you may have to file translations of your patent application in order to obtain patent protection in certain countries.

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