It is the modality used to protect inventions in Europe and is managed by the European Patent Office in Munich.
The European patent is governed by the Munich Convention on the Grant of European Patents of 5 October 1973.
It covers the 38 member states of the European Patent Convention although, in order to have effect in each of them, it has to be validated.
The European patent granting process comprises a formal examination, search report and an examination of mandatory patentability requirements. It also provides for the possibility of opposition after grant.
Its legal life is 20 years from the patent filing date.
Annual fees must be paid from the third year onwards to maintain the patent in force.