Changes of the rules regarding the inventor designation at the EPO
Currently, the EPO sends, according to Rule 19(3) EPC, to each inventor mentioned in a European Patent application a letter including information about the application, in particular the number of the European patent application and the name of the applicant. For that purpose, the EPO requires the complete addresses of the inventors.
In practice, in many cases, the inventors have changed their address and these letters are therefore returned to the EPO, which generates additional work for the EPO, since it has to issue a communication to the applicant, asking for the inventor’s new address.
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation will now change this practice with its decision of 15 December 2020. Paragraphs (3) and (4) of Rule 19 EPC will be deleted, such that the EPO no longer has to send information about the European patent application to the inventors.
Further, according to the amended Rule 19(1) EPC, the request for grant of a European patent should include inventor designations that mention only the family name, given names and country and place of residence of the inventor and include a statement indicating the origin of the right to the European patent (Art. 81 EPC). Thus, the full address as currently needed is not required any more. The new Rule 19(1) reads as follows:
"The request for grant of a European patent shall contain the designation of the inventor. However, if the applicant is not the inventor or is not the sole inventor, the designation shall be filed in a separate document. The designation shall state the family name, given names and country and place of residence of the inventor, contain the statement referred to in Article 81 and bear the signature of the applicant or his representative."
The amendments of Rule 19 EPC should enter into force on 1 April 2021 and apply to any inventor designation filed or rectified on or after that date. Further, Rule 19(1) EPC as amended shall also apply to any international application entering the European phase on or after that date.
Subsequently Rule 143 (1)(g) will also be changed. This Rule relates to the content of the European patent register. The patent register should in the future only publish the family name, given names and country and place of residence of the inventor designated by the applicant or proprietor of the patent, unless the inventor has waived his right to be mentioned under Rule 20, paragraph 1.
The amended Rule 143 shall enter into force on 1 November 2021 and apply to all patent applications published in the European Patent Register on or after that date.