The EPC allows a single patent application to be filed in up to 38 European countries (Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco,
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom) in one of the three official languages, English, German or French.
A patent is then granted in each of the chosen countries according to the countries national law.
The PCT allows a single patent application to be filed in 148 countries and streamlines the protection process. It imposes only one set of formalities to comply with instead of multiple national formalities and requires only one international search, publication and examination.
The PCT system comprises of two stages, an international phase and a national or regional phase before designated offices.
The international phase consists of filing the international application, an international search, international publication and an international preliminary examination.
The decision to grant a patent is made by the national or regional offices during the national phase. The national phase is usually applied at 30 months (some States are 20 months) with translations and fees being payable at this point.