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Definition: European Patent Convention

Research and development

The European Patent Convention (Munich Convention), signed in Munich in October 1973, establishes a uniform patenting system for all countries signatory to the Convention.  The European patenting procedure consists of two parts; firstly, the search followed by publication of the application, and secondly, the examination which is only conducted after a formal request by the applicant.  The applicant can designate as many contracting states as he wants at the moment of filing the application or at the moment the Euro-PCT enters the regional (European) phase.  A granted European patent is protected under national law in each of the countries designated in the application.
Twenty-one countries attended the Munich Diplomatic Conference in 1973 on which the Convention is based.  Up to 1997, eighteen countries were Member States of the European Patent Convention: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and The United Kingdom.  In December 1997, the Cypriot parliament approved the country's accession to the EPC and since April 1998 Cyprus has been the nineteenth country of the organisation.  Norway has signed the Convention but not yet ratified it.  On November 1997 the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia became the sixth country to join the extension system after Albania, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia.
Research and Development: Annual Statistics 1999, Eurostat, p. 50