Any European patent application filed on or after 01 March 2015 will automatically request validation in Morocco. If the European patent application is to be validated in Morocco a €240 fee must be paid within six months of the date on which the European Patent Bulletin records publication of the European search report. A two-month grace period will be available, during which the fee can still be paid (with a 50% surcharge).
When the application grants, the patent will be eligible for validation in Morocco. However it is unclear what formalities will have to be complied with for the validation process to be completed. There has been no announcement whether or not Morocco will implement the London Agreement (which reduces or eliminates the translation requirements for validation in particular member states). In any event, the subsequently validated patent will have the same legal standing as a patent granted in Morocco itself. For businesses or companies with an interest in pursuing IP in Morocco and in Europe, this promises a more streamlined and centralised route.
Applications filed prior to 01 March 2015 will not be validated in Morocco. Since divisional applications are restricted to the designated states of the earlier application under Article 76(2), it will not possible to obtain a validated patent in Morocco by filing a divisional application of an application filed prior to 01 March 2015.
This marks the first time that a European patent application can lead to the grant of a patent in a non-European state and also the first time that a country that is not signed up to the European Patent Organisation has chosen to recognise patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO).
Readers may also be aware that the EPO drafted a similar agreement (not yet in force) with Tunisia on 03 July 2014 and that negotiations are ongoing with Moldova.