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EPO logo How to get a European patent – Guide for applicants
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Introduction to the Guide for applicants

The "Guide for applicants" aims to provide companies, inventors and their representatives with an outline of the procedure for granting European patents, offering practical advice to smooth the way to a European patent.

This Guide cannot go into all the details, issues and ramifications of the European patent grant procedure, and it does not constitute an official commentary on the European Patent Convention.

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.

  • Part 1 of the Guide has been thoroughly revised and expanded (April 2004). It describes and explains the direct route to a European patent and the associated procedures. The Guide can be downloaded in all three languages as a PDF-file.

  • Part 2 of the EPO Guide for Applicants is aimed at applicants interested in pursuing the procedure under the PCT and focuses on those elements specific to the PCT procedure before the EPO. This part of the Guide is referred to as EPO PCT Guide to distinguish it from the PCT Applicant's Guide published by WIPO (WIPO PCT Guide), which is available on the WIPO web-site.

    The EPO PCT Guide aims to cover all the points to note when the EPO acts in its capacity as:
    • a receiving Office,
    • an International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority, and/or
    • a designated or an elected Office.

    Annex II shows the different phases (see also Annex III).

    As from 1 January 2004 the procedures under the PCT have undergone major changes as a consequence of amendments to the Regulations under the PCT ("PCT Rules"), which are covered by the term Enhanced International Preliminary Search and Examination System (“EISPE system”). It should be noted that the new procedures apply in general only to international applications filed on or after 1 January 2004. Unless indicated otherwise, the EPO PCT Guide applies only to the procedures in force from 1 January 2004.

    It can be downloaded as a PDF-file.

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