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Noeleen O'Hara by Noeleen O'Hara

One important feature of the European patent system is its strict novelty requirement according to which an invention must not have been made available to the public before the filing date of the patent application. By contrast, some other patent systems allow for a "grace period", i.e. a period of time before the application's filing date during which an invention may be disclosed to the public without losing its novelty so that the invention remains patentable.

With this new study, the EPO aims to assess the impact of the strict novelty requirement on the filing and business practices of EPO applicants. The study will give the EPO and its stakeholders fact-based evidence on the workings of the European patent system. The results of the study will also contribute to the policy discussions on the international patent system and how it benefits both our applicants and society as a whole.

The study will be based on a broad survey of EPO applicants, complemented by user consultations and desk research of the existing literature. We have commissioned BERENT Deutschland GmbH, an international research agency, to conduct the survey among EPO patent applicants based in Europe and beyond selected at random from different categories. The chosen methodology means that it is likely that member companies in your organisation will be contacted.

In order to ensure the completeness of the study, the statistical results derived from the survey will be complemented by a consultation of our users. Share with the EPO, by writing to chiefeconomist@epo.org by 21 February 2022, any observations on the economic impact, if any, on your members of the absence of a grace period in Europe.

In addition, we would be especially interested in the broad, systemic perspective that your organisation could provide on the matter, given your level of specialised knowledge of the patent system. This essential complement to the field-level data collected through the survey would be reflected in a dedicated section the final report.

A copy of the information and survey questionnaire is available here

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