Sunday 25 September 2016

Why you should withdraw your European Patent Application

Patent applicants and their agents should very seriously consider their portfolios of pending European patent applications. Why?

  • You will get the whole of the examination fee back if examination has not started. This deal was improved on 1 July 2016 and is part of the EPO drive for greater efficiency as described here. This is set out in Art 11 of the Fees Rules if you don't believe me.
  •  You will get the whole search fee back if there is no supplementary search. Art 9 of the Fees Rules
  • The prospect of the Unitary Patent (UP) is fading after the #Brexit vote by the United Kingdom is receding fast. The continental Europeans would like the UK to ratify the Agreement fast so that it can become effective. However to do so before negotiations are complete would potentially put UK businesses who hold patents at a disadvantage when they were being enforced. Its possible that as part of the negotiations some new Treaty might be arranged that allowed the UK and possibly other significant non EU countries that are part of the EPO system to participate. Do read the opinion from Counsel which was sought by IP Federation, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and the Intellectual Property Lawyers Association rather than the spin that certain parties have put on it. Without the Unitary Patent the less rich patent holder tends to proceed on grant only with a few London Agreement territories. A rapidly granted UP held out tantalisingly the prospect of maintaining patent protection in 25 territories for a reasonable period until the renewal fees climb massively after year 10 to encourage lapse of any patents that are unexploited by that age. 
If you don't want to withdraw patent applications on which hefty renewal fees are being paid for nothing then you should consider making a PACE request when paying the next fee. You need the form 1005 and since I just spent an age looking for it, I have written this blog to hold the link to its location. I am sorry if they have since moved it.

Of course if you move the application along you will need to be able to respond to the examination report and pay the grant fees. It is worth giving applicants an idea of what that might cost having looked at the state of the claims in the application as it stands.

As  a further incentive to tactical withdrawal sometimes the EPO is going  to give you advance notice that the examination is about to start. A sensible move because it must frustrate examiners that cases are abandoned when they have done work, which could have been avoided.

1 comment:

  1. Your last paragraph could be interpreted as indicating that the EPO only sends out notices of intended start date of examination for cases that are going to hit the rocks - is there a EPO policy document that states that, or is that something you have experienced ? My take on this was that it is a communications tool to be used by the EPO to justify that Examination is indeed proceeding according to the new shiny "speeded-up" handling. Where that leaves other cases which seem to be have been waiting nigh on 5 years for something to happen is a mystery that still remains to be solved.