Expedited issuance of French patents relating to COVID
On April 21, 2021, the French patent office (INPI) decided to accelerate, upon request, the issuance of patents and utility certificates that protect anti-COVID treatments or COVID diagnostics or devices. The conditions for requesting such acceleration are as follows :
- Applications for patents or utility certificates were filed as of June 1, 2020;
- The request for acceleration must be submitted within 10 months of the filing (which curiously means that on the date of publication of the decision, April 21, 2021, any filing made between June 1 and June 20, 2020 was de facto excluded from the provision);
- before the request for acceleration is filed, the treatment must have been submitted to a competent authority for a clinical trial, assessment, or marketing authorization. Medical devices must have been submitted for CE marking or for registration on the anti-COVID medical device validation platform.
The INPI then undertakes to issue the patent within 24 months (compared to 3-4 years in the conventional way).
Acceleration is free of any charge. The only constraint is to avoid requesting an extension of the time limit for responding to the search report.
Through this provision, the INPI recognizes the importance, for applicants, to obtain a patent to raise funds and accelerate the development and availability of these products participating in the fight against the health crisis.
Note that the European Patent Office does not offer a special system for patent applications relating to COVID; however accelerations of procedure before the EPO are open to all applicants, on request, without conditions nor justification.