Insights European Patent Office member states agree on common practices to simplify the patent system


In 2019, as part of the EPO’s Strategic Plan 2023, the EPO developed an initiative to align administrative practices between the EPO and Europe’s national IP offices more closely.

Six areas for convergence of practices were chosen jointly by the national patent offices, the EPO and representatives of industry and the IP profession. They were selected as the areas in which a more uniform approach between the EPO and Europe’s national IP offices is likely to deliver the most tangible benefits for users and patent offices.

EPO member states have now agreed the first two common practices to be adopted in the areas of: (i) examination of unity of invention; and (ii) designation of the inventor.

The EPO says that more closely aligning administrative practices is expected to improve predictability and legal certainty in the European patent system, and provide simpler, more streamlined and cost-efficient proceedings for applicants. It will also increase efficiency for the EPO and the national patent offices and bring down costs, through the potential re-use of work products.

The areas to be examined next are: (i) accordance of priority date; (ii) re-establishment of rights; (iii) claim drafting and structure; and (iv) examination practice for computer-implemented inventions and AI.

The common practices are developed in dedicated working groups made up of representatives of EPO member state patent offices, who examine the different approaches in Europe and agree on best practice. Once approved, they will be implemented by the offices on a voluntary basis. To read the EPO’s press release in full, click here.