A patent can be protected nationally or internationally.
It is possible to apply for a patent nationally, as a European patent application or internationally as a so-called PCT application.
The question of which way to choose depends essentially on the economic interests of the applicant concerned.
1. national registrations
National applications are to be favoured if the invention is to be protected in only a few countries.
If several applications are filed in different European countries, this can have the disadvantage, in contrast to a centrally examined European patent application, that the national patents have different narrow or broad fields of protection.
One advantage of national applications is that they are not centrally attackable by an opposition as with the European patent.
2. European patent application (so-called EP application)
If patent protection is to be obtained in several European countries, an EP application should be considered. The amount of the fees is determined by the number of designated countries. From a number of 7 designated countries the amount of the fees is the same.
An EP application usually makes sense from a cost perspective if you want to designate more than 4 to 5 member states of the European Patent Convention.
In addition, the official procedural fees are staggered in the granting procedure of the EP patent. After each stage of the procedure, the applicant can decide whether he is still interested in obtaining patent protection and would like to pay the next fee.
Compared to national applications, the European patent application has the advantage that it is centrally examined for patentability.
3. patent application under the Paris Convention (so-called PCT application)
If an application is planned for a large number of countries, but it is not yet clear in which countries exactly, a PCT application should be considered.
The possibility of a PCT application is based on the Paris Convention, which has over 150 member states.
As a rule, you have 30 months (calculated from the filing date of the first application from which you claim priority) to indicate for which countries you actually wish protection. When initiating the so-called national phase, the applicant must file a request for examination at the patent offices of the desired countries or at the regional office (e.g. the European Patent Office). Unlike the procedure for an EP application, the PCT application is not examined centrally.
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