A simplification of the patent system has been necessary, and therefore the EPO and the member states have decided to work for a common practice in several areas by establishing the so-called Convergence Programme. At a meeting in December 2020 in the EPO Administrative Council, two approaches to the administrative practices were approved by the member states. A practice for examination of unity of the invention and a practice for designation of the inventor.
The Convergence Programme is a major milestone when it comes to European patent cooperation
The two practices have been developed by two working groups in which the Danish Patent and Trademark Office has participated together with representatives from patent offices of other EPO member states. The member states have examined the different approaches in Europe and on this basis identified the best practices.
“The Convergence Programme is a major milestone when it comes to European patent cooperation. We have achieved many common recommendations for unifying selected topics. One of the preliminary results is, for example, a convergence practice on the unity of an invention - something that is of great importance to the users. With the alignment of practices, it will be easier for users – and particularly the SMEs – to use the patent systems in Europe”, says Flemming Kønig Mejl, Head of International Secretariat at the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.
The alignment is also expected to provide more concrete benefits for both the users of the patent system and the authorities.
“For example, the work is expected to provide greater predictability for the users in relation to the processing by the authorities and in relation to the outcome of an application. An increased unification of practices will also lead to a higher level of transparence and lower costs for users. The authorities will also be able to benefit more from other authorities’ work. All in all, a win-win situation”, says Flemming Kønig Mejl.
In addition to the two practices already adopted, the areas to be explored in the future are:
Practice for assignment of priority date, reestablishment of rights, preparation and structure of claims, assessment practices for computer-implemented inventions and AI.
After having adopted the new practices, they will be implemented by the national offices on a voluntary basic.
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