The EPO has decided to participate in WIPO’s Digital Access Service (DAS) for the exchange of certified copies of priority documents from 1 November 2018 (for further details please see the EPO announcements here and here).
DAS allows for priority documents to be exchanged electronically between the various participating patent offices, a complete list of which can be found here. The EPO’s participation in DAS will provide the following benefits for users of the patent system.
First, when a new European patent application is filed via online filing, the EPO (as “office of first filing”) will automatically generate a DAS access code in the online filing receipt. Subsequently, the DAS access code can be used when filing a priority-claiming patent application at a DAS-participating patent office (i.e. an “office of second filing”), to allow the patent office in question to obtain a copy of the European priority application from the EPO.
Second, when a priority-claiming patent application is filed at the EPO as “office of second filing”, it will be possible to provide the EPO with a DAS access code issued by the “office of first filing”. The DAS access code will allow the EPO to retrieve a copy of the priority document from the “office of first filing”, thereby fulfilling the requirement of Rule 53 EPC to submit a certified copy of the priority application within 16 months of the priority date.
With regard to this latter benefit, it is worth noting that the EPO has existing arrangements in place for exchange of priority applications with the US, Chinese, Japanese and Korean patent offices and those arrangements will remain in place notwithstanding the EPO joining DAS. Consequently, the EPO will continue to obtain automatically copies of US, Chinese, Japanese and Korean priority applications via its existing arrangements, even without a DAS access code being supplied. Likewise, if the priority application is a European patent application or PCT application filed at the EPO as receiving office, the EPO will automatically add a copy of that priority application to the file. Accordingly, it will be necessary to make use of the new DAS mechanism only if the “office of first filing” is not the European, US, Chinese, Japanese or Korean patent office. The new DAS mechanism is therefore likely to be most commonly used by European applicants who first-file at a participating European national office (e.g. the UK Intellectual Property Office), but will also be useful for some other applicants, such as Indian applicants who first-file at the Indian patent office.
The EPO has not yet implemented DAS in respect of international (PCT) applications filed at the EPO as receiving office, but intends to do so soon.
If you have any questions regarding this change, please get in touch with your usual J A Kemp contact.