A revised patent law in Germany is expected to come into force in March 2014.
There will be online file inspection after the publication of the application. Many patent offices offer this, including the UK, US and European Patent Offices. Germany is therefore coming into line with other major countries in this regard.
It will be possible to file a German patent application in English and then file a German translation up to twelve months from the filing date or fifteen months from the priority date. This will be helpful for last-minute filings, where we receive instructions at short notice, because there will be no need to get an urgent translation done at the last minute.
The search report will be expanded to include a preliminary opinion on patentability. Again, this is already done by the US Patent Office and the EPO and is an option at the UK Intellectual Property Office.
These changes make it easier to avoid the EPO route, and instead file separate national applications in the UK and Germany, which is a strategy being pursued by more clients nowadays.