20 December 2021
A randomly selected group of applicants for European patents are being surveyed this winter on the novelty requirement under the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the lack of a so-called "grace period" in the European patent system. The survey, which will explore the impact of the strict novelty requirement on the filing and business practices of EPO applicants, will be complemented by a consultation of user and stakeholder associations. The resulting feedback, which will be analysed by the EPO and published in a study in the spring of 2022, will provide important input for evidence-based discussions.
Under the EPC, patents are granted only for inventions which have not been publicly disclosed prior to their earliest filing date. In some patent systems, this strict novelty requirement is partly mitigated to allow inventors to make disclosures of their inventions during a "grace period" of, for instance, six or twelve months prior to filing their patent application, without compromising the patentability of their invention.
We have commissioned BERENT Deutschland GmbH, an international research agency, to conduct the survey among randomly selected EPO patent applicants from within and outside Europe, including universities and SMEs, and from different industry sectors. Representative user associations in the EPO member states will also be consulted and their contributions reported in a dedicated section of the study.