Morocco to Allow Validation of European Patents as National Patents

22 January 2015

It has been announced that it will be possible, from 1 March 2015, to validate European patents in Morocco.  This development marks the culmination of an agreement between the European Patent Office (EPO) and Moroccan Industrial and Commercial Property Office (OMPIC) first signed in 2010.

Morocco will not be a member of the EPC, nor a so-called extension state.  Instead, the validation agreement is a bilateral arrangement between the EPO and the Moroccan Industrial Property Office (OMPIC).  A similar bilateral agreement between the EPO and Tunisia was signed in July 2014, but has yet to be ratified, and so has not yet entered into force.

For users of the European patent system, the practical result of this announcement is that it will now be possible to cover up to 41 countries with a single European patent application. Anyone filing a European patent application (or a PCT application designating Europe) after 1 March 2015, will be able to request validation in Morocco, and a validation fee of EUR 240 will need to be paid to the EPO within the same period as for paying designation and extension fees.  The system is similar in effect to the current extension state system, although the validation fee (EUR 240) for Morocco is somewhat higher than the current extension fee (EUR 102).

Moroccan validation will not be available for European patent applications filed before 1 March 2015, or any European patents resulting from such applications.

The EPO's announcement can be seen here, and initial guidance on how the validation process will work in practice can be seen here.

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