Patent FAQ

How do I obtain and protect a patent? What is the patent process?

Although the patent process is straightforward, it can be involved. A good working knowledge of the basics for non-lawyers is outlined clearly in a publication entitled Patent Fundamentals for Scientists and Engineers. Published by CRC Press, Patent Fundamentals provides a clear explanation of the patent system and patent principles. It can be ordered online from CRC Press.

What is the meaning of the alphanumeric codes (A1, A2, A3, B1, B2) that appear after an EP or PCT application number?

The letter codes are used to designate document kind or stage of publication. In the case of both EP and PCT documents, the first publication of a document relating to the invention is the published application, and this stage is signified by the letter ‘A.’ Since the European Patent Office is a patent granting body, the second stage of publication is the European Patent, signified by the letter ‘B.’ More details are shown in the table:

A1 application with search report
A2 application without search report
A3 search report (with republished first page)
B1 granted European Patent
B2 granted patent, amended after opposition

(PCT documents do not have a ‘B’ phase. The patent granting from a PCT application will be a European (regional) patent or a national patent in the countries designated by the applicant.)

What is PCT?

PCT, Patent Cooperation Treaty, is an international treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations. The primary purpose of the treaty is to provide a simplified application procedure for filings in multiple countries. Over 70 countries are signatories to the PCT. PCT applications can result in granted patents in all of these countries or in regional patents having status in them. The European Patent Office is the largest of these regional patent offices.

How can I tell if a European Patent Application has been granted?

The Document Delivery section of the PatentWeb is the place to find out whether a specific European Patent Application has become a granted European Patent. The Number of the European Application is retained on the granted patent, the granted status being indicated by the letter ‘B.’ When you request a European Patent number, the PatentWeb will return a list of all available documents related to that number, the published application and the granted patent. (See the description, above, of document kind.)

When are European and PCT applications published?

According to the governing laws of the European Patent Office and the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the application must be published within 18 months of the earliest application date.

Where can I find more information about US and International Patent Classification?

There are many sources of Classification information, in both print and electronic forms. WIPO

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