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The “obvious” thing for a UK patent applicant is to file a UK priority application; but in a survey of 10 major UK companies with in-house departments, 5 had a policy of filing EPC priority applications with a search request. An Espacenet search revealed that BASF, Bayer, Philips, and Siemens were also filing EPC priority applications. In total, the EPO receive 30 000 “first” applications per year.
The author may as well not beat about the bush: in his opinion, in many technological areas (subject to national security considerations), EPC priority filings should be the norm for any UK-based serious international patenter (and at least for German- and Dutch-based ones, too). And a client who is deterred by the upfront cost of an EPC priority filing compared with a UK priority filing arguably should not be in the patenting game at all, when the total cost of patent protection in the G7 countries over the full 21 years from priority is around £ 100 000 in current prices, and when even coverage only in the UK, the USA, and Germany costs a substantial proportion of this. (more…)