Monday, 19 January 2015

Morocco recognises European patents nationally: what will this mean?

Afro Leo posts, below, the text of a media release from the European Patent Office which reads as follows:
Morocco recognises European patents as national patents  
A win-win agreement: Morocco is the first non-member country of the European Patent Organisation to validate the legal effects of a European patent on its territory  
Casablanca/Munich, 19 January 2015  The President of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoît Battistelli, and the Moroccan Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy Moulay Hafid Elalamy announced today that an agreement allowing European patents to be validated in Morocco will enter into force on 1 March 2015. 
This is a historic step for the European patent system, and it brings to 41 the number of countries for which patent protection can be obtained simultaneously with a single European patent application,” said EPO President Battistelli.
Mr Battistelli also praised “Morocco’s strategic vision with regard to building up a national patent system that is firmly anchored in the international system”. He noted that the legal certainty of patents granted by the EPO and validated in Morocco will strengthen the economic benefits of the Moroccan patent system and increase the country’s attractiveness for foreign investment. 
Minister Elalamy underlined the advantages of the country’s newly reformed intellectual property system for both local companies and foreign investors. Speaking about the validation agreement with the EPO, Mr Elalamy said it confirmed Morocco’s strategy of integrating itself into the global economy. 
The Director-General of the Moroccan Industrial and Commercial Property Office (OMPIC), Adil Elmaliki, said Morocco’s new intellectual property law was a turning point for the country’s patent system, which will enable the granting of IP rights of the highest international standard. 
Starting on 1 March 2015, anyone filing a European patent application will be able to request validation for Morocco against the payment of a fee. European applications and patents validated for Morocco will have the same legal effects there as Moroccan ones and will be subject to Moroccan patent law. 
The EPO and OMPIC highlighted the benefits of their long-standing strategic partnership, which serves to improve the quality of patents granted and offer better services to users. Co-operation between the two offices has intensified since 2010, enabling Morocco to become the first country for which a validation agreement with the EPO enters into force.
From the point of view of a patent applicant seeking maximum protection via his EPO application, this is clearly good news.  However, this blogger is not quite sure how recognising European patents as national patents is going to build up Morocco's national patent system. Presumably it will reduce demand for patent examiners in Morocco and will give the local profession even less practice at dealing with patent applications than they have at present.  It is hoped that Morocco's move will be closely monitored by economists and intellectual property lawyers alike and that all consequences for Morocco's economy and its infrastructure are carefully weighed up.

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