Given the common economic grounds provided by the European Union and select international treaties, it makes sense that special tools have been established in order to obtain protection for intellectual property objects in several European countries at once. EPO, the European Patent Office, offers a centralized patent granting system, through a European patent route with separate validation in each country of interest, or a new unitary patent route, launched on 1 June 2023. EUIPO, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, is where to apply for in order to obtain an EU trademark or a registered Community design.
Protection of inventions under a single patent can be extended to up to 44 countries
As of 1 June 2023, a unitary patent covers 17 countries out of 25 EU Member States that have joined the enhanced co‑operation
Trademark and design protection is obtained simultaneously in every country that is currently part of the European Union
Each of the procedures has its own peculiarities.
When it concerns the patents available at the EPO, they can only be granted for inventions, and not utility models. European patent can be granted in 3-5 years from the application date.
In order to apply for a unitary patent, the applicant first needs to obtain a European patent under the usual procedure. After the patent is granted, the applicant may request “unitary effect” for it within one month from the publication of grant date, or opt to validate the patent separately in the specific Member States.
The European Patent Office is also available for PCT applications, and examination of PCT applications shall be requested at filing.
When it concerns trademark registration by the EUIPO, the Office does not conduct examination on prior rights, providing instead an opposition system, which allows third parties to contest trademarks based on their own EU trademarks, or even earlier national registrations protected in one of the EU Member States. Overall, it takes about 5-6 months from filing till registration of a EUTM, although the process may be much longer in case there is an opposition.
For owners of EUTM applications or registrations who also have an earlier national registration it is possible to file a seniority claim, extending EUTM protection back to this national registration.
Community design, protected through EUIPO, is another useful tool providing IP protection in EU. During examination, individual character of the design is not assessed. However, after registration third parties can invalidate a design based on conflicting rights. The registration usually takes about 2-3 months.
Both EPO and EUIPO offer possibilities of electronic communication in order to facilitate the procedure. The official languages of the EPO are English, French and German. The five working languages of the EUIPO are English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
For general information on the costs, please contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be happy to provide a precise calculation for your particular situation, including any unorthodox matters. If it concerns potential oppositions, litigation or other such cases that are usually based on an hourly rate, please send us a brief description of the circumstances. We will analyze the case and prepare a detailed professional estimation of associated costs.