It has been announced that it will be possible, from 1 December 2017, to validate European patents in Tunisia. This development marks the culmination of an agreement between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Tunisian Patent Office (INNORPI) first signed in July 2014.
Tunisia 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 INNORPI. Similar bilateral agreements between the EPO and Morocco came into force on 1 March 2015 and between the EPO and Moldova on 1 November 2015.
For users of the European patent system, the practical result of this announcement is that it will now be possible to cover up to 43 countries with a single European patent application. Anyone filing a European patent application (or a PCT application designating Europe) on or after 1 December 2017, will be able to request validation in Tunisia, and a validation fee 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.
Tunisian validation will not be available for European patent applications filed before 1 December 2017, or any European patents resulting from such applications.
The EPO's announcement (currently only available in French) can be seen here.