Once a European patent application has been granted patentees must choose to validate the granted application in one or more European countries. Once grant fees have been paid to the European Patent Office (EPO) a European patent will be awarded. The European patent is unenforceable until it becomes validated in the selected countries of the European Patent Convention (EPC).
The costs of validating a European patent are on a per country basis, and include validation fees, translation costs, page fees, and service fees by European counsel. Once a patent is validated, the patentee must pay annuities in each country.
Annuities increase over the life of the patent therefore it is common for applicants to initially validate in a relatively large number of countries and reduce the number of countries once the patent matures and the key market are known.
The following should be considered when deciding which countries to validate a European patent in:
- type of protection afforded by the patent
- patentee’s business model
- patentee’s budgetary considerations
- target market
- product life cycle
- competitive landscape
- market size