On 15 January 2024, the Republic of Georgia will become the 45th country in which patent protection may be obtained via a European patent. The "validation" agreement between Georgia and the European Patent Organisation was signed on 31 October 2019, and will come into force this month.
The European Patent Organisation currently has 39 Member States, that is, the 30 states of the European Economic Area (the European Union member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) along with Albania, Switzerland, the UK, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, San Marino and Turkey. All of these states are designated in a European patent application by payment of a single fee. Upon grant, the European patent will have effect in those states, subject to certain formalities being carried out in the states of interest.
In addition, over the years, agreements have been signed with various other European and non-European states to enable patent protection to be obtained by way of a granted European patent. These systems are known as "extension" and "validation". Currently the extension system applies to Bosnia-Herzegovina and the validation system applies to Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia and Cambodia. Validation in Georgia will be available for any European patent application filed from 15 January 2024. Extension and validation requests are deemed made upon filing a European patent application, and a fee is payable within six months of publication of the European search report. If the fee is not paid in due time, the request for extension/validation is deemed withdrawn. If the validation/extension fees are paid, then (as above for the EPO Member States) the European patent will come into force in those countries for which the post-grant formalities are completed.
In addition to the option of bringing a European patent into force in the 45 individual possible territories, a European patent can also be used to obtain a "patent with unitary effect". As explained in our earlier article, this option has been available for granted European patents since 1 June 2023 to cover, by way of a single "registration", a subset of (currently) 17 EU Member States.
A European patent is therefore an efficient and cost-effective mechanism for obtaining patent protection in a large number of independent states/territories after a single examination and grant process. It provides an applicant/patentee with a great deal of flexibility, with the final choice of in which countries to bring the patent into force (and the associated costs) being deferrable until the scope of granted patent is known.
The decision regarding in which countries to bring a European patent into force and how best to achieve this will be different for different applicants depending on their commercial needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can provide you with further advice regarding this.
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