An invention is entitled to patent protection only if it fulfils certain requirements. One of the most fundamental requirements under the European Patent Convention (EPC) is that such inventions are new. However, many inventors disclose their inventions before a patent is filed, which destroys the novelty principle. Introducing a grace period could help.
The European Patent Office (EPO) has released findings of a survey on how the lack of a grace period prior to filing a patent can impact innovators. According to the analysis, European universities experience more frequent issues than other entities due to pre-filing disclosures.
In other regions such as Japan or the USA, a grace period is conferred, allowing researchers to disclose and publish academic papers of a patentable invention before its filing date. In Europe, this is not possible and certain operators such as universities and research organisations argue such a rule should be implemented to fully tap into Europe’s R&D potential.
Overall, the EPO analysis concludes, the creation of a grace period entails a trade-off between the flexibility gains it may generate for applicants and the legal uncertainty experienced by third parties as a result of its use.
- Publication date
- 13 July 2022