epoline® : Patent Europe goes on line
The Union still lacks genuine legislation on the concept of the Community patent. A failure to agree – on language matters in particular – has caused discussions to fail yet again, to the great disappointment of the Danish presidency, which ended on 31 December 2002.
The European Patent Office, based in Munich, is nevertheless a reality. For almost three decades now, it has been compensating for this legal vacuum by providing de facto protection for intellectual property rights and inventions in the 24 European member countries.
The EPO, which handles some 150 000 patent applications a year, recently acquired a remarkable new tool which has brought it well and truly into the electronics age. The epoline® access system – whose operational validity was confirmed at the Nice (FR) conference in early December 2002 – is a new dual- use electronic tool. Firstly, users can consult on-line an impressive database of patents registered at the EPO (about three million documentary sources). Secondly, applicants for an EPO patent can now directly submit their own proposals for the rights to be granted.