European Patent Validation
The legal framework for securing protection of IP rights in Europe is based on the enaction of legislations both on the national, supra-national and European Union level.
IP protection can be secured in Europe based on national patent laws as well as on the provisions of the European Patent Convention (EPC). The application process itself can thus either involve individual applications filed with national patent offices, or a centralised process involving the European Patent Office and governed by the provision of the European Patent Convention.
A patent granted by the European Patent Office does not – at least not yet – result in a single European patent enforceable before one single European Court of Law. However, in the coming years it may well be possible to obtain IP protection in the form of a Unified European Patent.
The European Patent Convention came into force in 1973 and today governs issuance of European Patents having legal effect in more than 35 EPC Contracting States – provided a confirmation or validation process is completed in each individual EPC Contracting State.
The European Patent Convention was inspired by visions in Scandinavia for a common Nordic patent legislation – as discussed among Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland in the Nordic Council up until 1968. The discussions in the Nordic Council almost 50 years ago resulted in a wide harmonisation of Scandinavian patent laws – as clearly evident from present day IP legislation in Scandinavia.
Present day collaboration among Scandinavian patent offices is evident from the accession – or planned accession – of all of the Scandinavian Countries to the London Agreement aimed at reducing the cost of validation.
Likewise, it is possible to enter an international patent application into the national stage in each of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland merely by paying modest filing fees and without incurring any translation costs.
IP protection in Europe and Scandinavia is also governed by European Union regulations and directives having been incorporated into national laws and even into the European Patent Convention – even though the European Patent Office is a supra-national institution – and not an institution of the European Union or the Council of Europe.
European IP legislation is also shaped by international agreements such as the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), as well as the Patent Law Treaty and the London Agreement aimed at reducing the cost of validation of European Patents.