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Thinking about going to an IP event in 2017 and interested in the latest news from the EPO?

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Highlights in 2017

The EPO as a PCT authority

A high quality search report by the EPO, the world's most popular searching authority, is open to applicants from the Europe, Japan, the US and many other countries through the PCT procedure. This key step in early identification of relevant prior art, enables patentees to predict outcomes before incurring excessive costs.

Recent developments to further improve the service to applicants include:

  • enhanced search tools for EPO examiners, incorporating Asian prior art and the prior art described in standards to ensure top quality search reports
  • strengthened PCT preliminary examination procedure with more interaction with the examiner and a top-up search to increase your chances for a quick grant when entering national phases
  • strong focus on providing PCT search and examination results in a reasonable time frame
  • cost-efficient approach (freeze of PCT search fee up until April 2016; PCT Direct service available free of charge; dispense of supplementary European search fee)
  • new rules concerning the non-unity procedure to facilitate the processing of PCT applications entering the European phase
  • easier access to the EPO with a more flexible approach regarding the use of address for correspondence and possibility to file via ePCT

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Getting ready for the unitary patent

As the launch-date approaches, the EPO is getting ready for its role as the administrative authority for the unitary patent. It will administer patentees' requests for unitary effect. It will also be responsible for collecting, administering and remitting renewal fees for unitary patents and for keeping a register of unitary patents which will include legal-status information such as licences, transfers, limitation, revocation or lapse.

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Improving worldwide access to information on patents

"Global Dossier", launched in June 2014, provides a full file inspection (also known as "file wrapper") service for patent applications from the EPO and the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the Japan Patent Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office, allowing users a single entry to view work done on a family of patent applications in the IP5 offices.

Meanwhile, the new federated European Patent register is bringing together data from the patent registers of Europe's patent offices into a single resource.