If you are interested in patenting an invention you may read the list of requirements and believe you are ready to file. But there is a lot more to the patent procedure in Europe than you would expect. It is important to compile a patent application not just to meet these legal requirements but to also help develop your invention so that it is in line not just for a patent but for a place in the market. With this in mind, here is some advice on how to develop your patent application for Europe.
1. Know When to Apply
Discuss with your patent attorney how the timing of your patent application will affect your overall success, and also the amount of stress or possible issues you put yourself under if you apply too soon or too late. There is no simple way of deciding whether it is better to file early or later. You could apply right before your product is ready to be launched, or way back in the development process. The risk of applying early is that you may not fully know how commercially viable the idea is until you get further down the product development cycle. But if you file later you risk someone else coming up with the same idea as you, and patenting first.
2. Don’t Stop at the Application
Once you have decided when to file, and you have completed your application, the process is by no means over. You need to look for prior art, which means using patent application software to find similar products that may have been developed after you made the original application. Look at ways in which you will develop your product in terms of exploiting the commercial potential of the invention.
3. Consider Re-Filing
If you are looking for a licensing agreement you could try withdrawing the patent application in order to re-file it later. You will get extra time this way to secure the licensing agreement. But this is not something to do without thought, and it is a good idea to first discuss this strategy with your patent attorney.
4. Skip Substantive Examination?
There is also a tactic you can use called temporary advantage where you use the patent protection for an idea, and that the protection lasts until you have achieved the objectives in terms of commercial exploitation. Once this has been achieved you can withdraw your application before the substantive examination stage. This could bring benefits but it could also be a risky tactic since you will almost certainly find it impossible to secure a license for your product.
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