EPO tightens Information Disclosure Requirements

Since the entering into force of the revised European Patent Convention (EPC 2000) on 13 December 2007, the EPO may "invite the applicant to provide information on prior art taken into consideration in national or regional patent proceedings and concerning an invention to which the European patent application relates", as specified under Art. 124 (1) EPC. The EPO now announced in a Notice dated 28 July 2010 that the Administrative Council decided to introduce a permanent utilisation scheme (see CA/D 18/09 of 28.10.2009, OJ EPO 2009, 585) so that work carried out on a first filing by a National or Regional Patent Office during the priority year can be utilised by the EPO for its own search. For this reason, amended Rule 141 EPC and new Rule 70b EPC will apply to EP/PCT applications that are filed on or after 1 January 2011. The permanent utilisation scheme as defined by amended Rule 141 EPC is an outcome of the Utilisation Pilot Project conducted from April 2007 to August 2008 and part of the agenda of the European Patent Network in which National Patent Offices (NPOs) of the EPC member states agreed on "utilisation by the EPO of work done by NPOs". Amended Rule 141 EPC (Information on prior art) reads:
(1) An applicant claiming priority within the meaning of Art. 87 shall file a copy of the results of any search carried out by the authority with which the previous application was filed together with the European patent application, in the case of a Euro-PCT application on entry into the European phase, or without delay after such results have been made available to him. (2) The copy referred to in para. 1 shall be deemed to be duly filed if it is available to the European Patent Office and to be included in the file of the European patent application under the conditions determined by the President of the European Patent Office. (3) Without prejudice to para ...
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