The main reason to register a patent is to secure added protection against those who may try to copy your invention for profit. The United States relies on a patent protection system which is based on “first to invent” instead of the “first to file” system used globally.
This means that if an inventor fails to register a patent it will be more difficult to prove in the future that they were the initial inventor. When you register a patent you gain protection for at least 20 years, but you will also be required to make it available for public use and publicize it after the patent expiry.
The United States is the only country in the world to use the “first to invent” system, however, the America Invents Act of 2011 will change the US system to the “first to file” once it is enacted into law.
European nations, on the other hand, have the “first to file” patent system currently in place. European patents are administered by the European patent register which is a public registry kept by the European Patent Office (EPO).
The EPO helps to provide legal information on all patents granted in Europe under the European Patent Convention (EPC). The EPO is the only legal body in Europe that can perform registration and publication of European patent applications.
The EPO regularly warns the public about scams by individuals and firms which invite inventors to register patents in unofficial publications and registers. These services have become one of the most common intellectual property scams in Europe.
The EPO acts as the executive body for the European Patent Convention, while the Administrative Council acts as the supervisory body and to some extent as a legislative body as well. The power to revise the European Patent Convention lies with the Contracting States when they meet at conference.