What You should Know when Applying for a European Patent

When you feel you have come up with a new idea, a new product, or a new service, it’s tempting to feel you need a patent and make sure that all proceeds from the said new item will come to you. Certainly, you have the right; after all, the law states that if it is a product of your intellectual capacity, then it is lawfully your intellectual property. It’s good to secure it and make sure nobody can take advantage of it without your permission.

However, there are several things to consider – you need to understand what exactly a patent is, and how the procedure of procuring one works. In some cases it’s absolutely necessary to have that patent in hand; in other circumstances you may want to wait for a while before going through the whole hassle. It’s a bit of a balancing act. Here’s what you should know when applying for a European patent.

Before you apply

Understand what an invention really is. First of all, it needs to be new, and it must be applicable to an industry. There needs to be an inventive step that you can prove. Secondly, you need to understand what a patent can do, and what it can’t do. You should never confuse a patent with copyright issues, or trade mark registrations. If you’re confused, make sure you seek the proper advice first.

Is it practical?

An application takes some time and money, so it should only be done in the territories you are thinking about marketing your invention in. For the UK, EU, and USA, the general guides should be considered:

  • Request a grant
  • Description of the invention / product
  • Claims
  • Drawings
  • An abstract

It’s an investment

It’ll take some money and some time, so make sure it’s part of the business plan. If you want to have a better idea of the cost and expense, you can take advantage of a European patent cost estimator – special software that can help you tremendously in your patent application.

The search and the publication

One disadvantage of the patent application is that it will get published. Think: do you want it to be published before you have had the chance to capture the market share you seek to gain?

Here’s the thing: getting a patent is absolutely the right thing to do if you feel that your invention or innovation is unique, and that there’s a great potential market value for it. It would be silly not to get a patent if you have such a valuable commodity in hand. However, it should be recognised that it will not come easy, and that it may require some time before the patent is actually granted. It’s an investment, and it should be part of a business strategy. Ask for professional and legal assistance if you are in doubt.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/




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