Nationals and residents of the People's Republic of China can continue to select the European Patent Office as their International Searching Authority (ISA) for their international patent applications filed in English under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Following the agreement between the EPO and the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), the pilot will be extended by one additional year until 30 November 2023 and up to a further 3000 applications.

This decision is based on the positive evaluation of the pilot which has been running since 1 December 2020. Interest in this pilot has been remarkable with active participation from over 270 applicants - including universities, research institutes and private individuals. In particular, both local and international companies based in China showed a strong interest in obtaining timely patent protection in Europe. By having their international searches carried out by the EPO, pilot participants benefit from both more legal certainty prior to entering the European phase and faster prosecution of their Euro‑PCT applications.

The pilot also enables PCT applicants who are nationals or residents of the People's Republic of China and whose international search was performed by the EPO as ISA to file a request for international preliminary examination with the EPO.

CNIPA Commissioner Dr Shen Changyu commented: "The pilot has been widely participated since its launch and provides convenience for applicants in acquiring IP protection in Europe. The extension of the pilot is one of the important fruits of the comprehensive strategic cooperation between the CNIPA and the EPO. We look forward to the continuous improvement of the pilot in the future, and better serving the IP application and protection for users. "

EPO President António Campinos greeted this development, stating, "This pilot is another tangible result of our strategic cooperation with CNIPA and it gives a useful alternative to all PCT applicants in China who are interested in the European market. We welcome the extension of this pilot as it will create more time and opportunities for users to evaluate the expected benefits in the examination phase before the EPO."