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It consists of a unified patent procedure that covers states from all over the world. It permits to postpone the costs of national applications in the different states until the 30th month from the application or priority date. One of the possible designations is the European patent. It is important to point out that it is not a patent grant procedure. It comprises two stages: the international phase and the national phase.
The international phase includes a formal examination and a Search Report, both mandatory, and an optional in-depth examination.
The national phase is equivalent to a single application in each designated state, with the advantage that it has already been examined during the international phase.
The yearly maintenance fees are to be paid during the national phase in the different states.