EUROPEAN PATENT ORGANISATION
Slovenia accedes to the European Patent Convention
1. Accession to the EPC
On 18 September 2002, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia (SI) deposited its instrument of accession to the European Patent Convention (EPC) and to the Act revising the EPC of 29 November 2000.
The EPC will accordingly enter into force for Slovenia on 1 December 2002.
The European Patent Organisation will thus comprise the following 25 member states as from 1 December 2002:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Further information concerning the effects of this accession and the provisions which Slovenia has enacted for the implementation of the EPC will be published in a later issue of the Official Journal. An English translation of the Slovenian Industrial Property Act 2001 is available on the website of the Slovenian Intellectual Property Office (http://www.uil-sipo.si).
2. Important information
European patent applications filed on or after 1 December 2002 will include the designation of Slovenia.1 It will not be possible to designate Slovenia retroactively in applications filed before that date.
To allow the new contracting state to be designated, however, the EPO will accord European patent applications filed in November 2002 the filing date of 1 December 2002 if the applicant expressly requests that filing date when filing the application.
Nationals of Slovenia and persons having their principal place of business or residence in Slovenia will also be entitled, as from 1 December 2002, to file international applications with the European Patent Office as receiving Office.
If the European patent designation box ("EP") is selected in a PCT request (PCT/RO/101) filed on or after 1 December 2002, that designation will automatically include the new EPC contracting state. However, by way of an international application it will only be possible to obtain a European patent designating Slovenia, not a national patent for Slovenia.The designation of Slovenia for a national patent in a PCT application will be considered as a request for the grant of a European patent (SI) (Article 4(ii) PCT, Article 32(6) Slovenian Industrial Property Act 2001).
4. Effect of accession to the EPC on the extension agreement between the EPO and Slovenia
The extension agreement between the Republic of Slovenia and the European Patent Organisation will terminate with the entry into force of the EPC in Slovenia on 1 December 2002. It will thereafter no longer be possible to extend European patent applications and patents to Slovenia.2 The extension system will, however, continue to apply to all European and international applications filed prior to 1 December 2002, as well as to all European patents granted in respect of such applications.
To obtain a reduction in the examination fee under Rule 6(3) EPC and Article 12(1) RFees, the request for examination may be worded as follows in Slovenian:
"Zahteva se preizkus prijave po 94. členu EPC."
(see Section II, point 5, of the Notes on Form 1001). As Section 5 (left-hand column) already contains a preprinted written request for examination in the EPO's official languages, the recommended procedure is to enter the written request for examination in Slovenian in the right-hand column of Section 5. The request for examination in this language may however also be submitted later at any time before the examination fee is paid (see decision J 21/98 of the Legal Board of Appeal, published in OJ EPO 8-9/2000, 406).
2 European patent applications filed on or after 1 December 2002 will no longer be deemed to be requests to extend the European patent application or the European patent granted in respect thereof to Slovenia. The marking of a cross against Slovenia in Section 34 of EPO Form 1001 for applications filed on or after the above date will not have any legal effect. Slovenia will be removed from the list of extension states when the form is next reissued.