Report of the epi Harmonisation Committee up to and including 17th May 2022

J. D. Brown (GB), Chair

Until December, 2021, Substantive Patent Law Harmonisation ("SPLH") had not been receiving the attention it should. This changed when the epi President received a letter from the EPO Chief Economist, informing of a new study on the grace period. After numerous virtual meetings of HC and a virtual meeting with the EPO Chief Economist and some of his team, a response to the EPO Chief Economist was prepared by the epi Harmonisation Committee and then approved by the epi Board and filed on 3rd March 2022.

On the main topic, namely SPLH, the EPO, at the 53rd meeting of CPL, agreed to conduct concerted national consultations on the basis of a common document and questionnaire. At the 54th meeting of CPL held on 15th February, 2022, it was reported that a draft Common Consultation Document had been prepared and sent to Member States for comment by Monday, 28th February 2022. Once finalised, a period of only 6 - 8 weeks would be provided for national offices to carry out consultations, draw up reports and provide them to the EPO. The EPO intends to consolidate the reports.

The objective is optimally to provide a final consolidated report, approved prior to the Group B+ Plenary meeting in September 2022, via written consultation if necessary. If not, a presentation of preliminary findings will be made.

The EPO will themselves only consult epi, not Business Europe (BE were after all party to the preparation of the IT3 Elements Paper). We received the consultation papers on 4th April.

The epi Harmonisation Committee are going to have the task of preparing the epi response. Two resolutions were passed by epi Council at the Council Meeting on 7th May 2022 in Munich, namely:

  • Council agrees that the epi is opposed to any kind of grace period.
  • However, epi could consider a grace period as a safety net as part of a harmonised system.

The Harmonisation Committee will now prepare a formal response to the EPO.