Joint communiqué
EPO-CNIPA pilot starts on
01 December, 2020

20 October 2020


Chinese patent applicants will be able to designate EPO as ISA, giving them an additional option for their international search

A two‑year pilot between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) will enable nationals and residents of the People's Republic of China to select the EPO as their International Searching Authority (ISA) for applications filed in English under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

The pilot, which starts on 01 December, will be open to applicants filing with either the CNIPA or the World Intellectual Property Organization's International Bureau (IB) as receiving Office and limited to a total of 2 500 applications in the first 12 months and 3 000 applications in the second 12 months.

CNIPA Commissioner Dr Shen Changyu commented: "China attaches great importance to intellectual property work. Chinese businesses consider IP protection to be a guarantee of core competitiveness and sustainable development. The PCT/ISA pilot programme is one of the important outcomes of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the CNIPA and the EPO and will help applicants to acquire IP protection in Europe".

EPO President António Campinos said: "This is a historic moment in our strategic co-operation with the CNIPA and, I believe, a sign of trust in the high quality of our work. The EPO is enormously proud to be the first office other than the CNIPA to be designated as an ISA for Chinese applicants and we are committed to providing the best possible service to applicants from China and worldwide".

During a transitional phase, applicants  filing their international application with the CNIPA as receiving Office and choosing the EPO as ISA will be required to pay the international search fee directly to the EPO in euros (EUR). It is planned to soon enable applicants participating in the pilot to pay this fee to the CNIPA in renminbi (CNY) on filing their application.

PCT applicants who are nationals or residents of the People's Republic of China and whose international search was performed by the EPO as ISA will also be able to file a request for international preliminary examination with the EPO. They should pay the corresponding fee directly to the EPO, pursuant to PCT Chapter II.

The EPO establishes international search reports (ISRs) and written opinions (WO/ISAs) which provide an applicant with a clear evaluation of their invention's patentability and so with a solid basis for taking timely and informed decisions as to whether or not to enter the various national/regional phases under the PCT, in particular the European phase. In addition, with an ISR and a WO/ISA from the EPO, Chinese applicants wishing to accelerate the prosecution of their application can enter the European phase earlier, request early processing and have their file examined without a supplementary European search.

For more information about the pilot, please consult our frequently asked questions. The answers explain the main procedures and give instructions for applicants interested in participating.

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