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International Patent Protection

An international parent application with the EPO will provide your business with the best quality international patent protection.

International Patent Protection

Companies looking for international patent protection can find themselves facing significant costs and risk. A Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) application helps innovators to defer costs while they secure potential markets and prove new technologies.

To get the most from a PCT application you need a high quality assessment as early as possible. This helps you make the right business decisions about the strength of your future patent protection around the world. A comprehensive International Search Report (ISR) from a trusted partner will give you and your company confidence about what lies ahead.

International patent protection - the advantages of a PCT application

Filing for international patent protection is best done through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application. Filing lots of national patent applications could be a waste of time and money if the patent or market turns out to be weaker than expected. A PCT application provides the flexibility to defer many costs for up to 30 months, allowing more time to make strategic decisions.

A PCT application filed with an International Search Authority (ISA) is the best solution for companies seeking a global market and looking to reduce their initial patenting costs. Choosing the right ISA is an important decision: their search results will become the basis for examination in many countries. With so much at stake, companies should select an ISA with access to the most extensive databases and the highest search standards. It is here that the EPO excels.

EPO services: quality you can rely on

Search services for all

Those applicants who do not, or cannot, use the EPO as their ISA, can still request a PCT supplementary search from us. This will augment the information from an international search obtained elsewhere. It will also dispense with the need for a search when entering the European phase.

The databases of the EPO contain over 800 million records, with patents from over 100 countries, including over 31 million from Japan, Korea and China. Our 4250 examiners are highly qualified scientists and engineers with years of experience in their specialist fields. To support them they have access to the world's largest citations database, the most sophisticated classification systems and instant machine-translation tools. Consequently the EPO search is truly global in its scope, with over 20% of all citations on EPO search reports being of Asian origin.

Every EPO International Search Report (ISR) also comes with a written opinion on the patentability of the invention. Speed is of the essence here, and these are delivered within six months of receipt of request at the EPO. Once complete, the ISR and written opinion show the potential strengths or problems of an application long before it is examined locally.

EPO as an International Preliminary Examination Authority (IPEA)

Saving you time

Thanks to closer working arrangements with the patent offices of the USA, Japan, Korea and China, ISA and IPEA work from the EPO can be used to speed up your application before those other four major IP offices under the PCT Patent Prosecution Highway (PCT-PPH) scheme.

With a positive International Search Report (ISR) and written opinion on patentability, you will be in a strong position to proceed with local examinations.

However, if the ISR and written opinion revealed problems there will be time to amend and review your application by requesting an International Preliminary Examination Report (IPER). This can be of crucial value in predicting likely objections at national and regional offices. Additionally, a top-up search will be performed and applicants can enter into dialogue with expert EPO examiners. Applicants and other offices can rely upon the opinion of our examiners as a strong indicator of an application's merits. As a result, half of all IPERs are issued by the EPO.

Saving you money

Having the right information in time to make proper strategic decisions about your patents around the world is priceless. But as a further reward to applicants the EPO reduces or refunds some fees in certain circumstances.

  • If the EPO has already performed the national search (Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, San Marino, Turkey) the international search fee is usually refunded.
  • If the EPO wrote your ISR you will not be charged for a supplementary search when entering the European phase.
  • If the EPO wrote your IPER you will get a 50% reduction in the examination fee when entering the European phase.

Find out more about how to file a PCT application with the EPO.