A filing and formalities examination first takes place after preparing application documents for a European patent application, filing them at the European Patent Office and paying the required fees. If deficiencies are noted, the applicant/s or their representative receives a communication according to Article 90(4) of the European Patent Convention (EPC). After overcoming the deficiencies or, if no deficiencies have been found in the filing and formalities examination, a state of the art search will be carried out at the European Patent Office and a search report with an opinion to the patentability is drawn up and delivered to the patent applicant or its representative.

At the earliest, 18 months after the date of filing or the earliest priority date, the patent application is published. Furthermore, the European search report is published. At the same time, a mention of its publication appears in the European Patent Bulletin. The applicant can now decide whether the procedure is to be continued. In case of affirmation, a request for examination must be filed and the examination fee, designation fee, and if necessary, extension fees have to be paid no later than 6 months after publication of the mention of the publication of the European search report. If the opinion accompanying the search report is negative, a reply to the opinion must also be submitted to the European Patent Office within these 6 months. Thereby, the claims and the description may be amended within the scope of the original disclosure.

After filing a request for examination and paying the fees, the examining division examines whether the subject-matter of the patent application is patentable, i. e. if the subject-matter is novel, based on an inventive step and susceptible of industrial application. If the examining division observes that these requirements are not fulfilled, the examining division issues an Office Action according to Article 94(3) EPC and transmits it to the applicant or his representative. When replying to the Office Action, the claims and the description may be also amended within the scope of the original disclosure. If the examining division finds after a further examination or already in the first examination that the requirements of patentability are fulfilled, the examining division issues a communication under Rule 71(3) EPC. By this communication, the examining division informs the applicant or his representative of the text of the patent application in which it intends to grant a patent. At the same time, the applicant is requested to pay the fee for grant and publishing as well as to file translations of the claims in the two official languages of European Patent Office other than the language of the proceedings. The official languages of European Patent Office are German, French and English.

If the applicant pays the fees and files the translations, he shall be deemed to have approved the text intended for grant. Then, the examining division normally issues the decision to grant. Afterwards, the certificate and, upon request, the printed patent document are transmitted to the applicant or his representative. Furthermore, the patent document and a mention of the grant are published. In the designated contracting states of the European Patent Convention in which a patent protection is desired, the patent has to be validated not later than 3 months after the publication of the mention of grant of the patent. Depending on the regulations of each contracting state, if necessary, a translation of the claims and, if necessary, also of the description has to be deposited at the respective national Patent Office for validation.

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