The year 2020 was a year of challenges for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And we can safely say we coped, as the EAPO operated without interruption while ensuring the effective functioning of the Eurasian patent system. This year made us take a fresh look at the usual routine, assess our capabilities and, where necessary, improve the approaches to administering our work.
The year 2020 witnessed another important stage in the formation of the EAPO-based system of legal protection of industrial designs. Following the deposit with the Director General of WIPO of the three instruments of ratification of the Protocol on the Protection of Industrial Designs to the Eurasian Patent Convention (EAPC), adopted on September 9, 2019 in Nur-Sultan, the date of entry into force of the international treaty was set on March 17, 2021.
In terms of cooperation under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the PCT Committee for Technical Cooperation made a recommendation on October 6, 2020, to the Assembly of the PCT Union to appoint the EAPO as an International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authority.
The number of Eurasian applications filed electronically reached 89 per cent of the total number of Eurasian applications filed in 2020 (as compared to 83 per cent in 2019).
In 2020, the average period between the date of sending out the decision to grant a Eurasian patent and the date of publication of information on the granting of a Eurasian patent was reduced to 57 days (as compared to 95 days in 2019).
The percentage of Eurasian application processed entirely in electronic form within the communication between the applicants and the EAPO at the examination stage has increased significantly to 80 per cent (as compared to 55 per cent in 2019).
In 2020, the EAPO initiated work aimed at practical use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and technologies in internal operations and analyzed the prospects for the use of AI tools and technologies to determine the future activity. In particular, the quality of search for similar documents using AI and applicability of AI for preliminary patent search and classification of Eurasian applications were assessed. The first practical outcome of these activities was the launch of an automated pre-classification tool in the International Patent Classification (IPC) based on the text of Eurasian application.
In 2020, the Eurasian Patent Organization’s Administrative Council (EAPO AC) held its thirty-six (twenty-seventh ordinary) meeting, while the EAPO AC Budget Working Group held its twenty-fifth meeting.
The EAPO Administrative Council decided to finalize the drafts of the following acts: Part II "Industrial Designs" of the Patent Regulations under the EAPC; the EAPO Statute on Fees for legally significant and other actions performed in relation to Eurasian design applications and Eurasian design patents.
Besides developing a system of regulatory acts on granting the legal protection for industrial designs, equal attention was focused on further improving the legal provisions regulating regional legal protection for inventions.
In 2020, amendments and addenda made to the Patent Regulations under the EAPC affected the provisions related to the right of priority, extension of the Eurasian patent term, procedures of patent search, formal and substantive examination of Eurasian applications, limitation of Eurasian patents, acquainting the third parties with the materials of Eurasian applications and Eurasian patents.
Amendments to the EAPO Statute on Fees established the amount of additional fee for patent search where the lack of unity of invention is determined, as well as clarified the conditions for reducing the unitary procedural fee when the Eurasian application contains a patent search report prepared by an International Searching Authority.
The EAPO also developed and adopted in 2020 a number of regulations affecting the granting of legal protection for inventions, such as the Procedure to file request for accelerated prosecution of patent application under the Patent Prosecution Highway Pilot Program between the EAPO and the Finnish Patent and Registration Office, the forms of the patent search report, supplementary patent search report, as well as declaration of non-establishment of the patent search report.
The Eurasian Patent Office received 3,377 applications for Eurasian patent protection in 2020.
The EAPO had 60,731 Eurasian application filings since the year 1996, through 2020.
2,754 Eurasian patents were granted in 2020, which exceeds the respective results of 2019 by 2.11 per cent.
The total number of EAPO grants for the period 1996 through 2020 makes 36,882 Eurasian patents.
The year 2020 saw 511 applications filed directly with the Eurasian Patent Office, which accounts for 15.1 per cent of overall Eurasian application filings during the year. National IP offices of the EAPC Contracting States channeled 380 applications in 2020, or 11.3 per cent of the total amount of Eurasian applications filed.
International applications accounted for the bulk of Eurasian applications in 2020 totaling to 2,486 applications, or 73.6 per cent of all the applications filed.
As of December 31, 2020, a total amount of the Eurasian patents in force on the territory of the EAPC Contracting States and the Republic of Moldova reached 17,410 patents.
In conformity with Rule 16(5) of the Patent Regulations under the EAPC which provide for additional legal protection for products requiring special permission for application, the validity of 29 Eurasian patents was extended during the period under review.
The rate of the appealed decisions of refusal to grant Eurasian patent has continuously remained low in the recent years, which demonstrates the legality and validity of the decisions made (percentage of appealed decisions of refusal to grant Eurasian patent constitutes 16.7 per cent of the total amount of such decisions taken in 2020).
Furthermore, the general trend of recent years shows stability with regard to relatively low number of oppositions received by the EAPO under the administrative revocation procedure (0.07 per cent of the total amount of patents granted over the year).
The main priorities of 2020 for the EAPO with regard to automation and informatization were upgrading the EAPO automated information systems (AIS) to enable the processing and publication of Eurasian applications and patents for industrial designs, developing tools for conducting patent searches including the search quality assessment means, and upgrading of existing AIS and information technologies to ensure sustainable operation of the EAPO under conditions of transition of a number of employees to remote operation due to the spread of COVID-19.
The year 2020 brought closer the launch of a new interstate system for legal protection of industrial designs in the Eurasian patent space. The Eurasian Patent Organization laid the foundation for its further development and discovered new areas of cooperation between the Eurasian Patent Office and various countries and regions worldwide.
For managing its finance in the reported period, the Eurasian Patent Organization relied on the EAPC, the Financial Regulations under the EAPC and the effective law of the host country of EAPO headquarters.
Due to meeting the revenue target in the reported year, the Organization was able to fully finance expenditure as budgeted, while supporting sustainable operations.
The EAPO focuses greatly on the development of the institution of Eurasian patent attorneys and interaction with patent attorneys of the EAPC Contracting States.
The new EAPO service, which provides the opportunity to take the certification test for Eurasian patent attorneys remotely, was extremely popular and received positive feedback during the two years that it was functioning.