Patents relate to how things work, not their appearance. Inventions include devices, methods and systems, including computer software. A patent relates to how an idea is implemented in practice, not the idea itself. To be protected under a "Standard Patent" an invention needs to be both novel (new) and inventive or, in the case of an "Innovation Patent", novel and innovative.

It is possible to file a European application, in English, and to prosecute the application before the European Patent Office to the grant of a single European patent. All of the European Union countries are members of the European patent, together with some other countries. When filing the application all member countries are automatically included. There are a number of "extension" countries that are not automaticaly included. These can be included by payment of an additional fee for each country.

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