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THE PHARMA REVIEW (MAR 2010)

European Patent System: An Overview

Kunal Saxena, Manthan D Janodia, D.Sreedhar, V.S.Ligade, Ajay Pise, N.Udupa

Introduction
European Patent System (EPS) is a very complex system and even experts in the field of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) face ample difficulties in dealing with EPS related queries. But in spite of the complexities involved it has an ever expanding market of 500 million people and an economy of approximately $18.5 trillion GDP. 1
The birth of EPS took long back in 1949 when French senator Henri Longchambon proposed the creation of European Patent Office in front of the “Council Of Europe”. The first genuine step towards forming a patent governing body in Europe was put forward in 1973, when Belgium, West-Germany, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK called for a multilateral treaty whose core objective was to grant European patents and form a uniform patent system in Europe. In the same year, the “Munich Diplomatic Conference for the setting up of a European System for the Grant of Patents” witnessed the signing of convention and the European Patent Convention (EPC) was born. As the convention was signed in Munich it is also sometimes called as “The Munich Convention”. Subsequently, the EPC set up the European patent office and registered its first patent application in 1978. At present, the convention is constituted by 36 member European countries. The EPC follows a harmonized process of filing a single patent application at the EPO in Munich or at one of its branches at The Hague or Berlin.2
EPC in its article 52(1) states that “European patent shall be granted for any inventions, in all fields of technology, providing that they are new or involve an inventive step, and are susceptible of industrial application.” Article 52(1) constitute the fundamentals terms which govern the inclusion or exclusion of any invention under EPS. Articles 52(2), 52(3) and 53 of EPC state the indications on exclusions on the basis of nature of patent system or on the basis of policy.2
All the regulations published in the European Patent Office (EPO) gazette, are strictly followed by the member countries of EPC. However, countries who are not the member of EPC can also enjoy a similar status by signing an “Extension Agreement” with EPO. The “Extension Agreement” comprises of a co-operation agreement which facilitates the grant of patent to extend to the non member countries after the payment of additional fees and completion of some specific formalities. On this date, countries like Albania, Bosnia and Serbia enjoy the privilege of “Extension Agreement”.

 

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