Registering a patent gives you exclusive rights (In this case, the 27 EU member states) over your invention for a limited period, normally 20 years. Other people cannot make, use, offer for sale, sell or import a product or a process based on your patented invention. You can give someone else temporary permission to use the invention through a patent license agreement or sell the patent to someone else. You cannot renew a patent after it expires.
What a patent protects
Use a patent to protect your technical inventions: new products or services which involve an inventive step and have industrial application.
If you want to know if something similar to your invention has already been patented, read the European Patent Office's patent search FAQ and consult the Espacenet database.
How you register a patent
- If you need protection in only one European country (In this case, the 27 EU member states), you can register a patent at national level. Check which local patent office to contact.
- For European-wide protection, you can register a European patent with the European Patent Office (EPO). A European patent also needs to be validated by the national patent office in each country where protection is required. Depending on the country's law, you may have to provide translations or pay fees by a certain date.
If you wish to have protection at international level, you need to contact the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).