Patent news from the German Patent and Trademark Office
GPTO introduces some user-friendly improvements - an "extended" German search report and a new time limit of 9 months for filing oppositions.
1. Patent applications originally filed not in German
The time limit for filing a German translation of an application originally filed in English or French will be extended from 3 to 12 months (but at the most 15 months from the priority date). Applications filed in other foreign languages will remain subject to the current time limit of 3 months from the application date. If the time limit for filing the German translation is not observed, the application will nonetheless receive a filing date and, thus, its priority may be claimed for subsequent applications.
2. Search procedure
In the future, a first, preliminary assessment of the patentability of the subject matter of an application will be provided together with the search report so that the applicant will receive a reliable estimate of the patentability of his application early on in the procedure. The applicant will therefore have a better basis to strategically plan the industrial exploitation of the invention and/or prosecution of the application.
Third parties will no longer be allowed to file a search request. However, they may still file a request for substantive examination.
Upon request of the applicant, the examiner has to conduct a hearing.
The term for filing an opposition against a German patent will be extended from 3 to 9 months.
Since the law does not contain a specific rule for the transitional period, the general principle shall apply that the new procedural law is to be applied to all those cases which have not been concluded at the time when the amendment came into force. Therefore, the new 9-month time limit shall be applied to all patents for which the old 3-month time limit is still running on 1 April 2014.
This means, that the opposition period for patents granted in January, February and March 2014 will be extended to 9 months.
The above new regulations enter into force on April 1, 2014.