“This law purposes a practice-oriented optimisation of the procedures at the German Patent and Trademark Office and for the applicants of intellectual property rights. The costs and bureaucratic effort involved are to be reduced.” Quote Federal Supreme Court
This declared goal is primarily implemented in the core areas of the patent granting and opposition proceedings. In line with the granting proceedings, an enhanced search report is to be instituted in the future which, similar to the proceedings before the EPO, includes a preliminary report provided by the patent examiner regarding the patentability of the subject-matter of the application. In this context, the search fee is adapted to the increased labour costs from 250 to 300 Euros. Another important change relates to the hearing during the examination procedure. While such hearing is at the discretion of the examiner under the existing law, the new law will make hearing mandatory at the applicant’s request.
A further improvement is related to the translation of the application into the German language. Effective 04/01/2014, the translation is no longer a prerequisite for the determination of the filing date. Furthermore, German translations of English and French applications can be submitted to the Patent Office withtin 12 months. Further important adaptations by the GPTO to the EPO practice relate to the opposition proceedings. The period of filing a notice of opposition will be extended from 3 to 9 months and the oral opposition proceedings will generally be publically accessible.
Moreover, under the new law no longer patents are granted without designation of the inventor; the electronic access to reports will be instituted (already accessible since 07/01/2014 at https://register.dpma.de/DPMAregister) and the “patent of addition” will be deleted.
Furthermore, the design patent can now be reviewed in official nullity proceedings (for further information see: http://www.fe-pat.de/aktuell-design-act-in-force-12.php).
The stated amendments come into effect on 04/01/2014 and leads to a consistent adjustment to the proceedings on a European and international level. Furthermore, the extended period for filing notice of opposition and the enhanced search report should lead to important advantages for the applicants.
In summary, it can be presumably reported that an increased efficiency, flexibility and transparency in German proceedings can be successfully implemented by this modernisation.