22 March 2023
On 16 March, user representatives met within the framework of the EPO's Standing Advisory Committee (SACEPO) to discuss current developments in the area of the EPC legal framework.
A primary focus of the meeting was the ongoing process of adapting EPC Regulations to the digital age, including with regard to plans to decommission outgoing faxes at the EPO and ideas brought forward by SACEPO members.
The latest developments in MyEPO Portfolio and other user services were shared. Users expressed their appreciation for the introduction of the application programming interface (API), which enables the automated exchange of data between users' intellectual property management systems and MyEPO Portfolio.
In addition, the EPO updated users on recent developments related to the Unitary Patent. These include the free new top-up search for earlier national rights that could be relevant for the validity of a Unitary Patent. The EPO also presented statistics on the use of transitional measures available to users. These offer users the option to submit an early request for unitary effect before the start of the Unitary Patent system on 1 June 2023 (ca. 300 requests received) and to request to delay the granting of a patent until after this date (ca. 3 000 requests received). SACEPO members reported on their first experiences with these EPO transitional measures.
According to SACEPO members, it seems that the possibility to delay the grant of a European patent until after 1 June 2023 also makes it convenient for applicants to delay their decision as to whether to request unitary effect of a European patent until after 1 June 2023. A majority of SACEPO members called for a possibility to file for a request for unitary effect before the grant of a European patent also as of June. Members welcomed the EPO's communications on the subject, which include a booklet on "National measures relating to the Unitary Patent".
The meeting concluded with a lively exchange on the topic of adapting descriptions to reflect adjustments made to claims during the patent examination process. The EPO also presented preliminary findings of an internal harmonisation exercise, concerning which SACEPO members expressed an interest in receiving more information.