European Patent System

European Patent System

Summary of European Patent System

A series of agreements among European states, the object of which is harmonized patent laws and regulations. The system includes the following agreements: European Patent Convention, also known as the Munich Patent Convention, and the Convention on Granting of European Patents, provides patent protection to a wide array of discoveries, including microbiological processes and, by implication, microorganisms. Although invention, per se, is not defined, the agreement does exclude protection for scientific theories, mathematical methods, aesthetic creations, and nontechnical mental process, including computer programs. The convention, which was adopted at Munich in 1973, came into force October 7, 1977; under the terms of the agreement, the European Patent Office (EPO) was established at Munich with a satellite office in Berlin. On January 1, 1978, the International Patent Institute, based in the Hague, was integrated into the EPO. States adhering to the convention are Austria, Liechtenstein, Sweden, Switzerland, and the members of the European Communities (read this and related legal terms for further details), with the exception of Demark.

Community Patent Convention, also known as the Luxembourg Patent Convention, provides for a common euro-patent with effect among the members of the EC. The object of this agreement is to supplant national patents issued by member states with community patents. This process has been impeded by constitutional problems in Denmark and Ireland.

Strasbourg Patent Convention. Originally concluded in 1963, this agreement came into force August 1, 1980, among France, German Federal Republic, United Kingdom, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Switzerland. The convention requires common standards of patentability and interpretation in the national laws of the adhering states, particularly with respect to the novelty of the inventions, and emphasizes the special protection requirements of chemicals, foodstuffs, and pharmaceuticals.

(Main Author: William J. Miller)



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