Updating an international treaty is not a short-term exercise
but, in reality, starts the very next day after a diplomatic conference
has adopted the treaty for the first time. Over the years, since
the conclusion of the EPC in 1973, a number of deficiencies and
weaknesses as well as many proposals for improvement had been noted.
Towards the end of the 1990s, time was ripe for the first comprehensive
revision of the EPC, and in 1998 the Administrative Council of
the European Patent Organisation agreed on a catalogue of legal
and technical points for revision.
The aims of the revision were the following:
- First of all, it was indispensable to take into account developments
in international law, in particular the TRIPs Agreement and
the Patent Law Treaty 2000.
- The second aim was to satisfy the justified needs
and expectations of the user community, for instance by establishing
centralised limitation procedure before the EPO and making possible a limited
judicial review of Boards of Appeal decisions.
- Thirdly, the
EPO had to meet its own demands in view of the workload, inter
alia by enabling the EPO to introduce Office-wide the
BEST system (Bringing Search and Examination Together).
- Fourthly, there was a
general interest in eliminating unnecessary requirements (deregulation).
the EPC had to be made more adaptable by streamlining the articles
of the EPC itself, transferring many details
of a procedural or administrative character to the Implementing Regulations.
The detailed proposals for revision of the EPC were prepared by
a Task Force comprising members from all EPO departments and were
subject of a broad-based consultation, not least of the user community
through the channels of the Standing Advisory Committee before
the EPO (SACEPO). All proposals were then thoroughly examined and
refined in a number of meetings of the Organisation’s Committee
on Patent Law comprising experts from all Contracting States, observer
countries and organisations.
The outcome of this intensive preparatory work was nearly one hundred
proposals for changes to the EPC, collected in a Basic Proposal
for the Revision of the EPC, approved by the Administrative Council
in September 2000 and submitted to the Conference of the Contracting
States convened under Article
172 EPC and held in Munich from 20
to 29 November 2000:
- Basic proposal for the revision of the EPC (MR/2/00, dated
13.10.2000, PDF 396 KB)