Morocco to recognise European Patents as National Patents
Morocco is to be the first non-member country of the European Patent Organisation to validate the legal effects of a European patent on its territory.
On 19th January, the President of the EPO and the Moroccan Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy announced that an agreement allowing European patents to be validated in Morocco will enter into force on 1 March 2015. We provide the details of how this is expected to work in practice below.
From 1 March 2015, at the applicant's request, it will be possible to validate European patent applications and patents in Morocco. After validation, they will confer essentially the same protection as patents granted by the EPO for the now 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation.
Validation for Morocco will be deemed requested for any European or international application filed on or after 1 March 2015. It is not available for applications filed prior to that date, or for any European patents resulting from such applications. The validation fee is EUR 240, which must be paid to the EPO within six months of the date on which the European Patent Bulletin mentions the publication of the European search report, or, where applicable, within the period for performing the acts required for an international application's entry into the European phase. This is a similar procedure as applicants may be used to following regarding extension states.
The validation fee can still be validly paid late, within a two-month grace period, however, in that instance; a surcharge of 50% must also be paid. If the designation fee has not been paid and further processing is available, the validation fee can still be paid along with the further processing concerning the designation fee. If the validation fee is not paid in due time, the request for validation is deemed withdrawn.
In due course, a reference to Morocco as a Validation state will be included in the request for grant form (EPA/EPO/OEB 1001) and the form for entry into the European phase (EPA/EPO/OEB 1200).
If clients who are filing new applications on or after 1 March 2015 are interested in extending protection to Morocco, they should speak to their usual representative about the best course of action.