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EPO survey on the novelty requirement and the grace period

At the European Patent Office (EPO), we are constantly seeking to monitor and understand the experience of the companies, universities and other organisations that use the European patent system.

Some patent systems allow for a ʺgrace periodʺ, i.e. a period of time before the application's filing date during which an invention can be disclosed to the public without losing its novelty, so that the invention remains patentable. By contrast, one of the most important features of the European patent system is the strict novelty requirement according to which an invention must not have been made available to the public before the filing date of the patent application..

The EPO is conducting a new study on the impact of this requirement on the filing and business practices of our applicants. In particular, we would like to

  • understand the impact of the European novelty requirement on the disclosure policies of our applicants, both within Europe and in countries outside of Europe which have a grace period, and
  • identify the resulting consequences.

The study will give the EPO and its stakeholders fact-based evidence on the workings of the European patent system. Publication of the results of the study will also contribute to the policy debate on the international patent system and how it benefits both applicants and society as a whole.

We have commissioned BERENT Deutschland GmbH, an international research agency, to conduct a survey among EPO applicants based in Europe, the US, Japan and elsewhere, and selected at random from different categories. The survey will be conducted by phone or via an online questionnaire. Respondents can choose from one of three languages: English, French and German.

The EPO is committed to protecting your privacy and personal data. We will process all data from the survey in accordance with our Data Protection Guidelines, which aim to ensure best practice when handling users' personal data.

1. Objectives

We are carrying out this survey of EPO applicants in order to understand:

  • how different categories of EPO applicants manage the strict novelty requirement
  • how this requirement impacts disclosure and patent commercialisation strategies
  • what effect different grace period scenarios might have

2. Methodology

The survey, which will be conducted by phone or online questionnaire, will focus on respondents' experiences of the novelty requirement under the European Patent Convention (EPC).

The respondents have been selected from a random sample of EPO applicants taken from the latest published patent documents.

Respondents will be asked about their organisations' patenting activities in Europe, their experience of dealing with the EPC's novelty requirement when filing patent applications at the EPO, and how they would respond to different grace period scenarios.

Once the survey has been completed, BERENT will report the results to the EPO in anonymised form.

Data will be grouped and analysed on a purely statistical basis. Aggregated results will be reported to senior EPO management and the public.

3. The EPO

The European Patent Office (EPO) is the patent office for Europe. It supports innovation, competitiveness and economic growth across Europe through a commitment to high quality and efficient services delivered under the European Patent Convention.

4. Frequency


5. Contact

For more information, please write to

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