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EPO study on the European Patent system and the grace period: an impact analysis

Last year, the EPO launched a study on consultation on the economic impact of the grace period. The project has now been completed and the final report was published on 17 June 2022.

The purpose of the study is to provide factual evidence on the impact of the novelty requirement under the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the lack of a so-called “grace period” in the European patent system. For this purpose, a large number of EPO applicants have been surveyed. They mostly reported that the strict novelty requirements of the EPC present little or no difficulties. Nevertheless, the survey has also shown the particular needs of the university research sector, especially in Europe, where academic disclosure can present problems for subsequent patent filings. Moreover, 7 % of US applicants reported that pre-filing disclosures have caused their applications to the EPO to fail in the past. Taking the status quo today as a baseline, it is estimated that if a grace period were to be introduced, it would be potentially used for some 6 % of applications. The ultimate uptake of any future grace period in the European patent system would depend on its design, and particularly, on whether any limitations, declaration requirements or prior user rights were adopted to balance out the system which would then influence whether applicants would modify their disclosure policies and behaviour as a result of the changes in the legal framework.

The study is available on the EPO website.