If you’re a U.S. patent practitioner like me, you may occasionally have European counterpart patent applications that are handled by foreign counsel. Sometimes I need to check the status of an EP patent application. The European patent attorneys that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with are usually very responsive. However, when I have a client on the phone who is asking for a status on the spot, it’s nice to be able to immediately check the status.
The European Patent Register
You can check the status of European patent applications that have been published using the European Patent Register at https://register.epo.org. Being a frequent user of the USPTO’s systems, I think of the European Patent Register as the EPO equivalent of the USPTO Public PAIR system.
Once you arrive at the EP register home page, you should see the EP “Smart Search” query field. If you’ve used Espacenet to search their worldwide patent database, then the Smart Search will be familiar to you. You also have the option to do a “Quick search” or an “Advanced search” by selecting one of these options on the menu bar:
I prefer to use the Quick search option. The Quick search form allows you to enter a publication number or an application number. I prefer this method because the system will usually take me immediately to my application without the need to sift through a list of search results. The smart search is nicely flexible, but with the flexibility comes a greater likelihood that multiple applications will match my search query.
If you are having trouble locating your EP application, you have many other search options on the Advanced search page, including Applicant(s) name, inventor(s) name, keywords, etc. It’s also important to note that your EP application will not appear unless it’s been open to the public.
Once you’ve located your EP application, you can click on the title and be taken to a set of pages containing extensive information about the application. You can navigate the pages using the sidebar menu, shown below.
On the “About this file” page, you can see quite a bit of information about the application, including current status and most recent event. You can also check the bibliographic information for accuracy, look at related applications, see the list of designated states, and much more.
You can view and download the documents in the patent application file wrapper by navigating to the “All documents” page. If you’re familiar with PAIR, this is the equivalent to the image file wrapper. You can select to download individual documents or several at a time. This is very useful if you need to take a look at an examination report or grab a copy of a recently filed amendment, for example. There’s also a handy link at the top of the page to open the application in Espacenet, where you can then view and download the published application.
All in all, the European Patent Register is a handy tool that can be very useful when you need to quickly check the status of a publically-available European patent application.
If you have any tips for using the European Patent Register that you’d like to share, please let me know about them in the comments.