From 1 March 2015, anyone filing a European patent application will be able to request validation of their patent in Morocco against the payment of a fee, in a somewhat similar way to the extension of EPO patents to Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro (and, in the past, to states such as Albania).

Background

On 17 December 2010, the President of the European Patent Office and Morocco's Minister for Industry signed an agreement on the validation of European patents. This culminated in amendment to the country's industrial property legislation in late 2014, creating the basis for the validation system now coming into force. Morocco becomes the first non-European country in which a European patent can be validated.

Limitations

Validation in Morocco will not be available for European patent applications filed prior to 1 March 2015. For European applications resulting from international applications, Morocco will be available only if the international filing date is on or after 1 March 2015.

It is not yet clear whether, in the case of an EPO application derived from a PCT application, Morocco will have to have been designated on the international application. However, under current PCT practice, the default position is that all PCT contracting states (including, of course, Morocco) are deemed to have been designated when the PCT application is filed, so no specific action is necessary, anyway.

Legal

European applications and patents validated for Morocco will have the same legal effects there as Moroccan national filings and will be subject to Moroccan patent law. Local validation requirements post grant of the European patent are not yet clear.

Conclusion

This brings the total number of countries available to designate/extend/validate through a European Patent to 41. Although not yet ratified, further validation agreements have also been entered into by the EPO with Tunisia and Moldova and these countries should be following in Morocco's footsteps in the not too distant future.