22 September 2021
EPO President António Campinos and the new Director General of the Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (OMPIC) Mr Abdelaziz Babqiqi have met for the first time at an online meeting on 22 September, opening a new chapter of co-operation between their offices.
Mr Campinos and Mr Babqiqi took stock of the validation agreement between the EPO and OMPIC, which entered into force on 1 March 2015 as the first ever EPO validation agreement. Under the agreement, around 400 granted European patents were validated in Morocco in 2020, a number that is expected to grow in the coming years.
The validation system is applicant-driven and available on demand. It provides European patent applicants with a simple and cost-effective way of obtaining patent protection in states that are not members of the European Patent Organisation. At the applicant's request, and on payment of a validation fee to the EPO, European applications (direct or Euro-PCT) and patents can be validated in a validation state, such as Morocco, where they have the same legal effects as national applications and patents. The validation procedure is governed solely by national law.
The meeting concluded with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the EPO and OMPIC, under which OMPIC becomes the 31st IP office to classify technical documents using the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC).
"This agreement opens a new chapter in co-operation with Morocco's IP office, which has been part of the EPO's validation system since it was established," said António Campinos. "By starting to use the CPC, OMPIC has taken a further step towards integrating the country's growing innovation ecosystems with global efforts, in which the EPO plays a lead role, to make patent information more accessible to inventors around the world."
The CPC is an extension of the International Patent Classification (IPC) and jointly managed by the EPO and the US Patent and Trademark Office. All stakeholders, and especially users and innovators, benefit from the transparent and harmonized global patent classification system supported by these schemes, which facilitate a more effective search process. For OMPIC, joining the CPC system is part of the ongoing modernisation of its processes and tools.
Co-operation between the EPO and OMPIC is thriving in other areas too. EPO support for OMPIC includes coaching and training for OMPIC examiners, the enhancement of patent data exchange, IT capacity building and initiatives to reach out to local innovators.