European patent applications may be filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) or the central industrial property office of a Contracting State of the European Patent Convention (EPC) by any natural or legal person, or any company equivalent to a legal person pursuant to the law governing it. The grant of a European patent may be requested for one, several, or all of the Contracting States.
Presently Contracting States are Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
Applicants who neither reside nor have their principal place of business within the territory of one of the Contracting States must be represented by a professional representative and must act through him. The official languages of the European Patent Office are English, French, and German. A European patent application may be drafted in any language. If it is not drafted entirely in one of the official languages of the European Patent Office, a translation must be filed within two months after filing the application. In each of the Contracting States for which it is granted, the European patent has the effect of and is subject to the same conditions as a national patent granted by that Contracting State.