Special Searches Handed Over to National Offices

Special search services beyond the scope of a standard patentability search will from 1 September 2007 instead be provided by the national offices of the EPO's member states.

The decision to stop the EPO's Special Search Programme (SSP) was taken by the Organisation's Administrative Council in June 2007 and comes as part of an effort to re-define the roles of Europe's patent offices within the framework of the European Patent Network (EPN).

So far 14 member states - Austria, Bulgaria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Turkey and the United Kingdom - have confirmed they can provide similar search services. Information about the services provided by each of these national offices is available in the European Patent Network section of the EPO website. The list is expected to grow as other offices announce their comparable services.

The EPN resulted from the two-year strategy debate on co-operation between the EPO and the IP offices of the member states that ended in June 2006. It has four main pillars: the Utilisation Pilot Project, a new Co-operation Policy, the Customer Service Project (which the Special Search Programme falls under) and the Quality Project.

(European Patent Office)