The EPO has recently launched a web-based consultation platform, enabling any interested parties to comment on proposed changes to European patent law and practice.
Preliminary drafts of proposed amendments will be published by the EPO on its website. These will include proposed changes to the Implementing Regulations to the European Patent Convention, to the Rules relating to fees, or to examination practice. The public will then be invited to submit comments on these proposals.
It is possible to sign up to be notified of any new consultations as they are published on the EPO website. Submissions cannot be made anonymously and, unless expressly requested otherwise, may be published.
The first user consultation has been already been launched, and relates to a proposed amendment of Rule 53(3) EPC. This rule deals with the filing of a translation of the priority document, allowing the EPO to request a translation into an official language where the priority claim is relevant to patentability. The proposed change introduces a sanction for failure to comply with this rule: the loss of priority.
The aim of this new platform is to increase transparency within the patent system and, ultimately, to ensure that future amendments to the law are useful to practitioners and applicants.
Though we are assured that any comments made will be seriously considered by the EPO, it will be interesting to see how big an impact contributions made through this system have on future amendments to the law.
20 December 2011