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Getting to know patents

As one of the main types of IP rights, patents are of considerable importance as they offer solutions to technical problems of various kinds. But what exactly is a patent, and what can you expect after being granted one? What requirements do you need to fulfil, and how does the EPO go about assessing the patent applications it receives?

You will discover the answers to all of these questions in this learning path.

In particular you will find out...

  • what a patent is – and what it is not – as well as the substantive legal requirements it must meet (course 1)
  • who the patent stakeholders are and what the different prosecution procedures involve (course 1)
  • what you need to comply with when applying for a patent, i.e. the patentability requirements for applications and inventions (courses 2 and 3)
  • the methodology used by the EPO to evaluate the different patentability criteria for both applications and inventions (course 3)


  • 1

    Introduction to the European patent system

    This self-paced course offers a basic introduction to:

    • what a patent really implies, including its value, content, structure, scope, advantages and alternatives
    • what cannot be patented
    • patent stakeholders and different prosecution procedures
    • patentability criteria and the requirements for inventions and applications


  • In the previous course you were introduced to patents, patent stakeholders and the legal ramifications of patenting. In this course you will learn about the substantive legal requirements an application or invention must comply with. While an application requires clarity, unity and sufficiency of disclosure, an invention must meet the requirements of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability.

    Understanding how these criteria are defined, why they are so important and how they are related to one another can help you conceive your invention and formulate your application more efficiently.


  • 2

    Patentability requirements at the EPO

    In this self-paced course you will gain a better understanding of:

    • the legal aspects involved in the patent prosecution system
    • the patentability requirements for inventions namely novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability as well the restrictions and exclusions on patentability of certain subject-matter (according to the European Patent Convention)
    • the patentability requirements for applications namely clarity, sufficiency of disclosure and unity


  • In the previous course you became familiar with the patentability requirements any application and invention must comply with. This course goes a step further and explains how EPO patent examiners first need to understand the invention as featured in the application received to be able to perform a meaningful search. After placing the invention in context by comparing it to what is already known, examiners apply the methodology that will enable them to evaluate whether the patentability requirements are fully, partially or not at all met.

    This information is very important for applicants because it shows them whether the invention stands up to scrutiny and helps them decide how best to proceed.


  • 3

    Assessing patentability requirements at the EPO

    In this self‑paced course you will gain a better understanding of:

    • the importance of the patentability requirements, which serve as starting point for understanding and evaluating your application and invention
    • the methodology used by the EPO's patent examiners to evaluate whether the patentability requirements are met
    • the different scenarios in which an invention and/or application may fail to meet the set requirements and why
    • the information the patent examiner will provide you with whenever objections are raised

    This course does not cover:

    • how to remedy the deficiencies noted
    • the legal and procedural consequences of failing to meet application requirements

    These topics are covered in more depth in the Search reports and written opinions course.