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Applying for a patent

Reinforced partnership programme - FAQ and information on partner offices

FAQ

Questions

Answers

The PATLIB page does not provide any information about trade marks. Where can I find out more?

The EPO is not responsible for trade marks and is unable to offer advice in this field. However, many PATLIB centres do provide trade mark- and design-related services.

For more information, please contact your national patent office, any PATLIB centre or the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

  • List of national patent offices
  • Directory of PATLIB centres
  • EUIPO website

Can PATLIB centres draft patent applications?

No. Their staff are not qualified or entitled to draft or file patent applications; for such services, you are advised to consult a European patent attorney (or "professional representative"). However, some PATLIB centres organise patent clinics at which patent attorneys provide professional advice to the general public.


How does a regional patent information centre join the PATLIB network?

Co-operation between the EPO and PATLIB centres is co-ordinated by national patent offices. Once a regional centre is officially recognised by its national office it becomes part of the PATLIB network. It is then entitled to the support available from the EPO.


Can PATLIB centres co-operate direct with the EPO?

No, they should go via their national office.


Information on partner offices

ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization)

The patentability criteria, including the regulatory frameworks and related examination guidelines, are fully aligned between ARIPO and the EPO. The same holds true for the respective field-specific practices.

Malaysia

The patentability criteria established by the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the Malaysia Patents Act 1983 (MY PA 1983) are very much aligned: there are no significant divergencies with regard to clarity, sufficiency of disclosure or unity of invention.

There is a divergency with regard to the criteria for non-prejudicial disclosures. The EPC, for the novelty test, only disregards a disclosure of the invention if it occurred within the six months preceding the filing of the European patent application and if it was due to, or in consequence of, (a) an evident abuse or (b) the display at an official international exhibition. By contrast, the MY PA 1983 disregards a disclosure of the invention if it occurred within the 12 months preceding the filing date and where (a) the inventor has made the invention known or (b) it occurred in consequence of an evident abuse.

Another divergency exists between the two systems in the field of pharma inventions. Under Section 14(4) My PA 1983, a known substance or composition already comprised in the prior art may be patented for use in a method for the treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy, or diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body, only if the known substance or composition was not previously disclosed for use in surgery, therapy or diagnosis (first medical use). Another use of the same substance or composition (second and subsequent medical use) may be patentable, provided that said use is novel and inventive. The claim(s) for the  second and subsequent medical use must be drafted in  "Swiss-type claim format". Likewise, at the EPO, a substance or composition that is already known to have been put to a first medical use may also be patentable for any second or further use, provided that said use is novel and inventive. The difference at the EPO is that second medical‑use claims are no longer allowed in Swiss-type claim format (now known as the "EPC 2000 claim format").

While this divergency in claim-drafting requirements obviously limits the re-use of EPO work products related to second medical-use patent applications, experience shows that such re-use is possible in the patent examination and grant process at MyIPO.

Mexico

In the field of computer-implemented inventions (CII) the EPC does not regard computer programs to be inventions only to the extent to which a European patent application or patent relates to that subject-matter as such. Mexican patent law, however, does not consider computer programs, without the "as such" limitation, to be inventions. While this does not, in practice, lead to the examination of CII patent applications at the EPO and the IMPI having different outcomes, it might require an adaptation of the claims for an application filed at the IMPI if the corresponding application at the EPO explicitly refers to computer programs in the claims, which would not be allowed at the IMPI. This applies to applications that were filed in accordance with the Industrial Property Law, which is currently abrogated. However, for applications received as of 5 November 2020, the new Federal Law on the Protection of Industrial Property applies, which is consistent with the EPC when it comes to claiming CII.

Moreover, with respect to the novelty test, the EPC disregards a disclosure of the invention only if it occurred no earlier than six months preceding the filing of the European patent application and if it was due to, or in consequence of, (a) an evident abuse or (b) display at an official international exhibition. The IMPI, however, disregards a disclosure of the invention if it occurred within the 12 months prior to the filing date and where the inventor has made the invention known by any means of communication, by putting it into practice or by displaying it at a national or international exhibition. This means that, in certain cases, a document which is cited in an EP search report as being prior art may not be considered to be prior art by the IMPI if the document has been published in a period of more than six months and less than a year before the filing date of the application.