Divisional Patent Application
As long as an existing patent application is still pending, i.e. not expired, rejected or withdrawn, a new application can be divided off from this existing application.
A divisional application may be useful if the application describes multiple inventions. The new, divisional application can then be directed to one of the other inventions.
The claims are the most important of the patent or application because the claims define the invention. In that sense, the claims determine the scope of protection of a patent.
A third party “infringes” your patent if it makes, uses or sells (in the jurisdiction of the patent) the invention claimed in the patent without your permission.
A patent is a prohibition right. The patent holder has the right to prohibit third parties from making, using, selling the invention in the territory (country or region of multiple countries) where the patent is in force.
A patent attorney is legally authorized to represent patent applicants before patent granting authorities.
For example, a Dutch patent attorney is authorized to represent applicants at the Netherlands Patent Office, the official body in the Netherlands, while a European patent attorney is authorized to represent the European Patent Office.
A Dutch patent attorney has completed a technical / exact study at master level (MSc), such as applied physics, mechanical engineering, etc. In addition, he or she has worked for three years under the supervision of a qualified Dutch patent attorney, has completed legal training and has passed several professional exams.
After a European patent has been granted, anyone who wishes to do so can start opposition proceedings against the patent within nine months of its granting. In the opposition proceedings, which are being conducted before the European Patent Office, the opponent will argue that the patent should not have been granted. The patent holder will defend the patent.
PCT stands for Patent Cooperation Treaty. 156 countries are currently members of this treaty. (See also here.)
State of the art
The state of the art for a particular patent application consists of everything that has been made publicly available in any way whatsoever before the day of filing of that patent application, for example orally, in writing, et cetera. The invention claimed in a patent application must be novel and inventive with respect to the prior art.
Unified Patent Court
The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is a court established in 2023 that rules on European patents and so-called unitary European patents (see below). A judgment by the UPC applies to an area consisting of several European countries, hereinafter referred to as the UPC area. The advantage of the UPC is that a patent holder does not have to file several lawsuits in different countries.
The green countries below belong to the UPC area. The light green countries may join later.
Unitary European patent
It is possible to opt for a “unitary patent” after grant in the European procedure. The unitary patent is a single patent for the UPC area. The advantage of the unitary patent is that the maintenance fees are relatively low. After all, a single maintenance fee has to be paid annually for the unitary patent as a whole, instead of maintenance fees per country as is the case with a “classic” European patent. A unitary patent automatically falls under the Unified Patent Court (UPC).