DRAFT AMENDMENTS OF THE GERMAN PATENT ACT
The German Parliament passed on 5 July 2013 a series of amendments to the German Patent Act to make proceedings in the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO) more user friendly, as well as to harmonize some rules and procedures with those of the European Patent Office (EPO). The stated aim is to maintain the value of a national German patent compared to the European patent and a future Unitary European patent, as well as to increase the competitiveness of the GPTO.
The substantial modifications will come into force in spring 2014, and are as follows:
Filing in English or French
Patent applications in English or French will enjoy preferential treatment compared to applications filed in other foreign languages in future. Many applicants file at the GPTO first in order to receive a first communication after 9-10 months with information about relevant prior art. Currently all documents must be translated into German within three months after filing of the application. This time period will be extended from three to twelve months for English and French language applications.
Applicants will only need to translate the foreign language documents into German, if they decide to maintain the application at the GPTO. The original foreign language documents can be modified (if required) and used as a basis for a European or International application. However, the GPTO may request a translation from the applicant in exceptional cases, e.g. of complex application documents. This change is intended to make the search services of the GPTO more accessible and to avoid unnecessary translations.
The format of the search report will be harmonized with international practice and will include a first preliminary assessment of novelty and inventive step. The GPTO will indicate whether the application contains more than one invention and may limit the content of the search report to a single invention.
The time period for filing an opposition to a granted patent will be extended from three months to nine months, as is required by the EPC. This reflects the fact that the opposition of a complex patent requires thorough preparation, in particular when coordination within a global business is required. The opposition procedure will be public and third parties can attend oral proceedings.
On-Line Documentation/File Wrapper
Access to documents will be made possible online. The previous requirement of personal inspection at the Munich office or requesting copies by fax or mail will be abandoned. It will be possible for applicants and others to consult the file history documents of granted patents and published patent applications.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: