EPO - many more changes coming next year

Contrary to initial impressions, the EPO Administrative Council meeting a couple of weeks ago was not a complete waste of time. Although the AC failed to elect a new President (see here, here and here for more details), they did manage to pass several new Decisions, which have recently been announced on the EPO website. These are:
Many of the changes, which are to be implemented at various dates in 2010 and early 2011, are to do with the new supplementary search that is now available for international applications under Rule 45bis PCT. This has unfortunately resulted in the structure of partial refunds available from the EPO now becoming too complex for mere humans (let alone cats) to comprehend. Fortunately, the IPKat estimates that most applicants will be unaffected by this in any meaningful way.

Other changes involve a general increase of fees across the board of around 5%. As far as the IPKat can tell, there will thankfully be no further dramatic rises in any fees this time round.

One further change that will have a more clear and widespread effect is the introduction, as from 1 January 2011, of a deadline for providing information on prior art, under an amended Rule 141 and a new Rule 70b EPC (see CA/D 18/09 for details). This will create a new two month deadline for providing the results of a search carried out by another authority, or for stating why these results are not available.

Why all these changes (except perhaps the 5% fee increases) are necessary is quite beyond the IPKat's understanding, but perhaps some of his more enlightened readers can help...
EPO - many more changes coming next year EPO - many more changes coming next year Reviewed by David Pearce on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. As I understand CA/D 18/09, the deadline under amended Rule 141 and a new Rule 70b EPC is limited to provision of search reports prepared on the priority application.

    As many (most?) priority applications are never themselves searched, but are allowed to lapse once they have done their job, the effects of this change may not be so widespread after all...

  2. The EPO will become a SISA under PCT next year, so we will then be able to talk about an International Search Report, a Supplementary International Search Report (under R.45bis PCT), a European Search Report and a Supplementary European Search Report (on EP-entry is EPO is not the ISA and also not a SISA).
    Most of the changes relate to this.
    It means that any PCT applicant can request that the EPO do a Supplementary International Search, prior to expiry of the 30-months.

    The change providing the priority search report is related to Raising The Bar (making the applicant work harder for a patent, and to assist the searcher)

  3. The situation is desperate - the backlogs are building up - something must be done!!

    We have done something - so all is right now!!

    Is it me, or is there a logical fallacy here? Shouldn't the "something" have some useful effect if it is to improve the situation?

    All that the incontinent splurging of new rules has done is to increase cost and complexity.

    What a good way to encourage innovation.


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