20 May 2012

Amendments to the German Patent Act (PatG)

Should you be interested in the latest amendments to the German Patent Act (Patentgesetz, PatG), you may have a look at our ksnh::law blog, where we provide an introduction in both English and German:

The respective proposal of Federal Minister of Justice Sabine Leutheuser-Schnarrenberger (Liberal Democrats/FDP@sls_bmj) was approved this week by the Federal Cabinet and will enter into force as soon as the Federal Parliament ("Bundestag") approved is as well. The purpose is to reduce bureaucracy and providing for more flexible and cost-efficient proceedings before the GPTO.

For applicants, basically three amendments are good news:
  1. After the introduction of the electronic case file system ElSA at the GPTO the Amendment clears the path for public access to the electronic ElSA files, not less than 9 years after the EPO introduced online file inspection.
  2. In future, the search report will provide a full opinion on patentability (novelty, inventiveness, etc.).
  3. The term for filing a translation of application documents filed in a foreign language is prolonged from 3 to 12 months, in case the application is filed in English or French. 
As the GPTO will nevertheless draw up a search report even if the translation of an English or French application has not yet been submitted, English and French filers may want to request a prior art early enough e.g. upon filing) and obtain a comparably cheap (300 EUR) opinion on patentability from the GPTO without the need of translating their application