A European patent is an exclusive right valid in the Countries Members to the Monaco Convention on the European Patent, which are currently 38. The list of countries is available at the following link. The competent patent office is the European Patent Office (EPO) with headquarters in Monaco and The Hague.
Further that an application for a European patent has been filed, it is formally examined, and then the European Patent Office (EPO) runs a prior art search. The resulting search report will contain, if any, the documents published prior to the filing date and some observations carried out by the Office on the patentability of the claims submitted. If objections are raised, the applicant must respond to said search report, by providing comments and, in case, by limiting the claims in order to overcome the objections.
After 18 months from the filing date (or the priority date if a previous application has been claimed in priority) the patent application is published and made available by consulting the website of the EPO.
Subsequently, upon request of the owner, the substantive examination procedure begins, in which an EPO Examiner performs a substantive examination concerning the content claimed, taking into account the prior art identified in the search stage, and in consideration of the patentability requirements set forth in the Monaco Convention on the European Patent (EPC or European Patent Convention). At the end of the examination procedure, a notice of intention to grant is issued, to which the proposed text for the grant is attached. Once the text is approved by the owner, the EPO shall provide a final grant of the patent. Within a time legally established, the holder must then proceed with the nationalization of the European patent in the member countries, filing, in some cases, the translation (partially or totally) of the text granted. In any case, from the date of granting, begins the so-called opposition period which lasts nine months, in which anyone can file a letter of opposition against the granted patent, along with arguments and relevant prior art documents for the purposes of patentability.
Timing for obtaining the grant
The time required for granting a European patent is generally longer than the time required for an Italian application, usually because of the examination phase which characterizes the European procedure.
By filing a European patent application it is possible to request the patent protection in all Member States of the European Patent Convention of Monaco, as indicated above.