From 1 March 2015, Morocco will become the 41st country in which it will be possible to validate a European patent once it has been granted. Any party filing a European patent application on or after 1 March 2015 will be entitled to request validation in Morocco provided that the appropriate fee is paid. European patents validated in Morocco will provide the same legal benefits and effects as a Moroccan national patent and will be subject to Moroccan national law.

Morocco will become the first non-European country in which a validation agreement with the EPO enters into force, and is also the first country in Africa in which a European patent can be validated. The agreement does not mean, however, that Morocco will become a member state of the EPO.

Entry into force of the validation agreement follows recent intellectual property legislation passed in Morocco during December 2014, which outlines the country’s provisions on patents, designs and trade marks. In particular, substantive examination is now required for trade marks, patent and design applications.

The possibility to validate a European patent in Morocco is hoped to provide economic benefits to the growing economy in the African state, and also to increase the attractiveness of Morocco to foreign investors.

Although not yet in force, a validation agreement has also been entered into by the EPO with Tunisia in July 2014 (as reported in an earlier publication – see European patent validation agreement signed with Tunisia), so Morocco’s pioneering step is likely to be followed by another African nation in the near future.