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The European Patent Office (EPO) has been participating in WIPO’s Digital Access Service (DAS) for the exchange of certified copies of priority documents since 2018 (see our earlier report here). Initially, the EPO’s participation in DAS did not affect pre-existing arrangements through which the EPO automatically obtained copies of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and US priority applications even when a DAS code was not provided.
However, the EPO announced in March 2020 that its arrangement with the Japanese patent office would cease on 31 December 2021 and that the EPO would no longer automatically obtain copies of Japanese priority documents from 1 July 2020 onwards (for further details, please see the EPO announcements here and here).
The EPO has now announced that it will also be ceasing its arrangements with the Chinese, Korean and US patent offices on 30 June 2023 and will no longer automatically obtain copies of Chinese, Korean and US priority documents from 1 January 2022 onwards (for further details, please see the EPO announcements here and here).
The EPO will continue to automatically obtain copies of priority documents where the priority application is a European patent application or a PCT application filed at the EPO as receiving office.
These changes will not generally be relevant to new European applications that derive from PCT applications that enter the European regional phase, since for such cases the priority document(s) will normally have been filed during the international phase.
However, the changes are relevant to new European patent applications that are filed directly at the EPO and which claim priority from Japanese, Chinese, Korean and/or US patent applications. In such cases, it will be necessary to provide the EPO with a DAS code in order for a copy of the priority document(s) to be retrieved by the EPO.
Accordingly, we suggest that applicants who routinely file direct European patent applications which claim priority from Japanese, Chinese, Korean and/or US patent applications to (i) request DAS codes from the offices of first filing and (ii) provide their European patent attorneys with the DAS codes for submission to the EPO on filing new European patent applications.
If you have any questions regarding this change, please get in touch with your usual J A Kemp contact.