1. On 1 July 2018, the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the National Intellectual Property Administration of the People's Republic of China (CNIPA) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), referred to jointly as the IP5 offices, launched the operational phase of the pilot project on collaborative search and examination under the PCT (hereinafter "the pilot") (OJ EPO 2018, A47).
2. It is recalled that each participating office could accept as competent International Searching Authority ("ISA") a maximum of 100 international applications over the first two years of the operational phase, with a soft target of 50 files per year. Until the end of 2018, only international applications filed in English were eligible to participate in the pilot. Offices could start accepting international applications filed in a language other than English only as of 2019. In order to be in a position to accept applications filed in French and German during the first year of the operational phase (between July 2018 and June 2019), the EPO decided to limit the number of applications filed in English to 40, thus leaving around 10 applications which could still be filed in either French or German. The quota of 40 applications filed in English was already reached in September 2018. As a result, the EPO decided to temporarily stop accepting international applications filed in English and instead, as of 1 January 2019, it began accepting international applications filed in French or German. For more details, see OJ EPO 2018, A95.
3. The notices from the EPO cited above are now supplemented by the information contained in the present notice.
II. Second year of the operational phase starting 1 July 2019
4. Users are informed that the moratorium on international applications filed in English will be lifted as of 1 July 2019, which marks the beginning of the second year of the operational phase of the pilot. As of that date, the EPO will accept international applications filed in any of its official languages (English, French or German) until the total of 100 international applications accepted by the EPO as ISA has been reached. It is not intended to have any language-related limitation in the second year, unless the total number of applications in French or German accepted in the pilot reaches 10, in which case an update will be posted on the EPO's website informing users that the pilot shall be restricted once again to international applications filed in English only.
5. Peer offices transmit their contributions to the competent ISA using a standard form. Peer contribution forms and any peer contributions attached to them will be made available as separate documents in PatentScope (paragraph 12 of the notice from the EPO published in OJ EPO 2018, A47). Peer contributions are available only in English, irrespective of the language of the procedure at the EPO, and they shall not be accessible to third parties prior to the publication of the international application. Applicants using the services of the EPO as ISA for the purpose of the pilot may only access peer contributions prior to the publication of the international application if they are holders of an ePCT account, in which case peer contributions shall be accessible from the date on which the international search report is available.