On January 1, 2011, new changes to the Implementing Regulations of the European Patent Convention (EPC) entered into force.
These changes mean that an applicant claiming priority from an earlier patent application must provide the EPO with a copy of the results of any prior art search conducted on the priority application.
The purpose is to accelerate the examination of patent applications for which search and/or examination work has already been conducted at another intellectual property office. The new rules allow the EPO to exploit work previously done by another office, thereby reducing duplication of search and examination procedures.
The EPO has amended Rule 141 EPC and introduced new Rule 70b EPC. These rules introduce a mandatory requirement that applicants must provide the EPO with a copy of any prior art search results for all priority applications. These new rules will apply to all European patent applications (including Euro-PCT and divisional patent applications) filed on or after January 1, 2011.
patent applications, EPO