Latvia accedes to the European Patent Convention
On 5 April 2005, the Government of the Republic of Latvia (LV) deposited its instrument of accession to the European Patent Convention (EPC) and to the Act revising the EPC of 29 November 2000.
The EPC will accordingly enter into force for Latvia on 1 July 2005.
The European Patent Organisation will thus comprise the following 31 member states as from 1 July 2005:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Further information concerning the effects of this accession and the provisions which Latvia has enacted for the implementation of the EPC will be published in later issues of the Official Journal.
2. Important information
European patent applications filed on or after 1 July 2005 will include the designation of the new contracting state. It will not be possible to designate Latvia retroactively in applications filed before that date.
To allow the new contracting state to be designated, however, the EPO will accord European patent applications filed in June 2005 the filing date of 1 July 2005 if the applicant expressly requests that filing date when filing the application.
Nationals of Latvia and persons having their principal place of business or residence in Latvia will also be entitled, as from 1 July 2005, to file international applications with the European Patent Office as receiving Office.
Any PCT request (PCT/RO/101) filed on or after 1 July 2005 will automatically designate the new EPC contracting state for the purpose of obtaining a European patent (Rule 4.9(a)(iii) PCT).
No European patents for Latvia can be granted on the basis of international applications with a filing date prior to 1 July 2005. However, a national patent can be granted, assuming that Latvia has been designated in the international application. The designation of Latvia at the time an international application with a filing date prior to 1 July 2005 enters the European phase is legally invalid.
4. Effect of accession to the EPC on the extension agreement between the EPO and Latvia
The extension agreement between the Republic of Latvia and the European Patent Organisation will terminate with the entry into force of the EPC in Latvia on 1 July 2005. It will thereafter no longer be possible to extend European patent applications and patents to Latvia. The extension system will, however, continue to apply to all European and international applications filed prior to 1 July 2005, as well as to all European patents granted in respect of such applications.
See Section 32.1 of the Request for Grant form (EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1001 01.05; OJ EPO 2004, 591). Latvia will be included in a new version of the form.
To obtain a reduction in the examination fee under Rule 6(3) EPC and Article 12(1) RFees, the request for examination may be worded as follows in Latvian:
"Ar šo tiek lugts veikt ekspertizi saskana ar EPK 94.pantu (see Section II, point 5, of the Notes on Form 1001). As Section 5 of Form 1001 (left-hand column) already contains a preprinted written request for examination in the EPO's official languages, the recommended procedure is to enter the written request for examination in Latvian in the right-hand column of Section 5. The request for examination in this language may however also be submitted later at any time before the examination fee is paid (see decision J 21/98 of the Legal Board of Appeal, published in OJ EPO 2000, 406).
EPA/EPO/OEB Form 1200 12.03; OJ EPO 2003, 588. European patent applications filed on or after 1 July 2005 will no longer be deemed to be requests to extend the European patent application or the European patent granted in respect thereof to Latvia. The marking of a cross against Latvia in Section 34 of EPO Form 1001 for applications filed on or after the above date will not have any legal effect. Latvia will be removed from the list of extension states when the form is next reissued.