EUROPEAN PATENT ORGANISATION
Lithuania accedes to the European Patent Convention
1. Accession to the EPC
On 3 September 2004, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (LT) 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 Lithuania on 1 December 2004.
The European Patent Organisation will thus comprise the following 30 member states as from 1 December 2004:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Further information concerning the effects of this accession and the provisions which Lithuania has enacted for the implementation of the EPC will be published in later issues of the Official Journal.
2. Important information
European patent applications filed on or after 1 December 2004 will include the designation of the new contracting state.1 It will not be possible to designate Lithuania 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 2004 the filing date of 1 December 2004 if the applicant expressly requests that filing date when filing the application.
Nationals of Lithuania and persons having their principal place of business or residence in Lithuania will also be entitled, as from 1 December 2004, to file international applications with the European Patent Office as receiving Office.
Any PCT request (PCT/RO/101) filed on or after 1 December 2004 will automatically designate the new EPC contracting state for the purpose of obtaining a European patent (new Rule 4.9(a)(iii) PCT).
No European patents for Lithuania can be granted on the basis of international applications with a filing date prior to 1 December 2004. However, a national patent can be granted, assuming that Lithuania has been designated in the international application. The designation of Lithuania at the time an international application with a filing date prior to 1 December 2004 enters the European phase2 is legally invalid.
4. Effect of accession to the EPC on the extension agreement between the EPO and Lithuania
The extension agreement between the Republic of Lithuania and the European Patent Organisation will terminate with the entry into force of the EPC in Lithuania on 1 December 2004. It will thereafter no longer be possible to extend European Patent applications and patents to Lithuania.3 The extension system will, however, continue to apply to all European and international applications filed prior to 1 December 2004, as well as to all European patents granted in respect of such applications.
1 See Section 32.1 of the Request for Grant form (EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1001 05.04; OJ EPO 2004, 377). Lithuania will be included in a new version of the form.
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 Lithuanian:
"Prašoma atlikti paraiškos ekspertize pagal 94 straipsni."
(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 Lithuanian 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 2000, 406).
3 European patent applications filed on or after 1 December 2004 will no longer be deemed to be requests to extend the European patent application or the European patent granted in respect thereof to Lithuania. The marking of a cross against Lithuania in Section 34 of EPO Form 1001 for applications filed on or after the above date will not have any legal effect. Lithuania will be removed from the list of extension states when the form is next reissued.