European Patent Office alleviates formalities for China based patent applications
According to Rule 141 (1) EPC an applicant when filing a priority based patent application at the European Patent Office has to file a copy of the results of any search carried out by the Patent Office with which the previous application was filed. This requirement applies to all European and Euro-PCT applications filed on or after January 1st, 2011.
Such filing needs to be facilitated that the time of filing of the European application, in case of a Euro-PCT application at the time of entry into the European phase, or without delay after such results have been made available to the applicant.
However, where the EPO notes at the time the Examining Division assumes responsibility, that a copy of the results of such searches have not been filed, it invites the applicant to file the copy of the searches or a statement that the results of the search are not available to him. The failure to reply to such invitation results in that the European patent application is deemed to be withdrawn.
On April 8th, 2021 the President of the European Patent Office has decided to lift this formal burden for applicants claiming the priority of a first filing made in the People’s Republic of China by exempting them from the requirement to have to file a copy of the search results under Rule 141(1) EPC. Previously such an exemption was available for applicants claiming the priority of a first filing made, e.g. in Austria, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, or Sweden.
The decision enters into force on July 1st, 2021 and applies to all European patent applications for which no invitation to file such search report issued by the Patent Office with which the previous application was filed has been despatched by July 1st, 2021.
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