Italy is one of the member States adhering to the European Patent Convention. Therefore, it is possible to file a single application and be granted protection in:
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European patent applications may be filed immediately or within 1 year of filing a prior, identical national patent application (so-called priority).
It is possible to file the application at one of the European Patent Office headquarters in Monaco, or at the national Patent Office of any member state adhering to the European Convention.
There are two stages to the European patent granting process:
1) application filing phase
The application is published within 18 months of the filing date. From this date on it is possible to request temporary protection from all countries granting European Patents, which will come into force on the date in which the translated claims are filed.
2) registration phase
In order to be granted protection, the applicant must:
- file an examination request and pay the related fee,
- designate the countries where they intend to seek protection for their invention, upon being granted it, and pay the relative designation fee.
The EPO then carries out an examination of the formalities, verifying patentability requirements (novelty, originality and industrial applicability), which takes the form of one or more opinions included in “search reports”, which the applicant must accept or reply to.
Once the above conditions are met and fees are paid, the patent will be granted and a certificate will be issued.
If the patent is granted, the applicant may initiate validation proceedings in some or all the designated countries of his/her choice.
Within three months of being granted it, the holder must file a certified translation of the patent, if the latter was not issued in the official language of the designated country. Failing to do so will result in the patent being invalidated in that country.
VALIDITY OF EUROPEAN PATENTS
European patents are valid for a duration of 20 years from the filing date.
Within 9 months of its being granted, any interested parties may file an opposition to the registration of a European patent, which will be examined by a Division of the European Patent Office, having decision-making power over the designated countries.