With a single filing and a single examination phase, the European Patent procedure allows to be granted intellectual property rights in 38 States members of the European Patent Convention (EPC), plus six other States bound by particular agreements to this Convention.
However, this procedure does not lead to granting a single patent effective in all Member State, but a bundle of national patents, each of which is effective in the corresponding contracting State.
Inventions covering all sectors of the art, and in particular material products (such as for example objects, instruments, machines, equipment, chemicals, etc.) and processes (such as industrial production processes, methods for operating equipment, methods for using a substance, etc.) can be protected with the European Patent, provided that they meet patentability requirements, in particular novelty, inventive step and industrial application.
Thus, prior to filing a European patent application, it is advisable to conduct a priority search aimed at verifying whether such patentability requirements are met.
Starting from the date of publication of the European Patent grant, the latter confers rights thereon and it subject to the same regime as a National Patent in each of the States in which the European Patent was recognised.
However, prior to the grant, the European patent application confers temporary protection on to the proprietor thereof starting from the date of publication of the application, which occurs 18 months from the date of filing of from the priority date if present.
In order to obtain the aforementioned temporary protection, some States, including Italy, require the proprietor of the patent application to file a translation of the claims into the official language of the State before the national patent office.