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Issue 10 | February 26, 2002
Update - U.S. Inventions Excluded by
European Patent Office


Last month we reported that the European Patent Office would refuse to conduct international searches and/or preliminary examinations with respect to certain patent applications filed by U.S. inventors after March 1, 2002. Since then, a letter to the editor was published in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society that outlines a procedure for using an "Applicant of Convenience" to overcome this obstacle.

Under this procedure, the non-European applicants will name a co-applicant, who is a resident or national of Europe, but only for a single designated PCT contracting state and only during the international stage of the application. For example, the European applicant of convenience may be the U.S. applicant's European subsidiary or foreign patent agent, and the designated PCT contracting state may be one in which the proprietor has no interest in obtaining a patent, such as Malawi. The European co-applicant serves as the basis for utilizing the European Patent Office as the international search and/or examination authority until the ownership interest of the applicant of convenience vanishes at the end of the international phase when the application is not perfected in the assigned contracting state.

Unfortunately, it is unclear from the letter whether its authors have successfully implemented this procedure before the European Patent Office. So, don't try this one at your office without first checking with a qualified European patent practitioner.

To discuss this topic further, please contact the author, Bill Heinze, at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley. The information contained in this e-mail is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.

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