Notice from the European Patent Office dated 7 July 2017 concerning updated EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1200 (Entry into the European phase)
EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1200 has been revised to make it clearer and easier to use. A major improvement is the inclusion of a new section 12, "Acceleration of procedure", which has a check box for requesting the early processing of Euro-PCT applications under Articles 23(2) and 40(2) PCT.
1. Section 6.1: Specification of the application documents on which the proceedings before the EPO as designated Office are to be based (Rule 159(1)(b) EPC)
Section 6.1 now clearly states that any claims amended under Article 19 PCT replace the claims as originally filed. This defines the basis for the further proceedings and makes it easier to calculate the additional fee payable for applications comprising more than 35 pages (Art. 2(1), item 1a. RFees). The table relating to section 6 has been amended accordingly.
If the international publication contains amended claims under Article 19 PCT but the applicant wants to pursue the Euro-PCT application on the basis of the claims as originally filed, he should inform the EPO of this in a separate letter.
2. New section 12: "Acceleration of procedure"
The notice from the EPO dated 30 November 2015 concerning ways to expedite the European grant procedure[ 1 ] draws applicants’ attention to other ways of accelerating the European grant procedure in addition to the PACE request. The options for expediting the procedure that are available on entry into the European phase are gathered together in a new section 12 for ease of selection.
(a) New section 12.1: "Early processing"
According to Articles 23(1)/40(1) PCT in conjunction with Rule 159(1) EPC, the processing or examination of a Euro-PCT application may not start before expiry of the 31-month time limit. When an applicant files an explicit request for early processing, this ban on processing the Euro-PCT application before expiry of the 31-month time limit is lifted, provided the requirements are met for the request to be effective. An effective request for early processing has the consequence that the international phase is terminated in respect of the EPO as designated/elected Office, and the European phase commences with immediate effect as if the 31-month period had already expired.[ 2 ]
New section 12.1 enables applicants to file a request for early processing under Articles 23(2)/40(2) PCT by ticking a check box. It is therefore no longer necessary to submit the request in a separate letter, although applicants may of course do so if they so wish.
(b) New section 12.2: "Waivers"
The waiver options in former sections 6.4 (waiver to the communication under Rules 161(1) or (2) and 162 EPC) and 4.2 (waiver to the invitation under Rule 70(2) EPC) have been moved to new section 12.2. Grouping the waiver options together in one section makes them easier to identify and select.
3. Former sections 12-14 have been renumbered as sections 13-15.
B. Notes on EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1200
4. The notes on EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1200 for entry into the European phase have been revised to reflect the above updates.
C. Availability of updated EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1200 and accompanying notes
The paper version of updated EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1200 and the accompanying notes will be available for download from the EPO website as from 1 November 2017. The updated electronic version will be available with the next software release as from 1 November 2017.
Applicants may continue to use previous versions (paper or electronic) of EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1200 without prejudice to their rights.
[ 2 ] See notice from the European Patent Office dated 21 February 2013 concerning the request for early processing, OJ EPO 2013, 156.