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Will the Polish Patent Office operate more quickly than the EUIPO?

This is the objective aspired to according to the premises of an amendment currently being drafted to the Industrial Property Law – procedures are to be handled more quickly and be more applicant-friendly. This is a very interesting prospect, especially as the bill itself is also intended to be passed quickly, as soon as QI 2022, but what else is behind the envisaged changes, and are all of the changes a good thing?

Two issues are especially important regarding patents

  • the time period for the Polish Patent Office to produce a compulsory report on the state of art will be reduced – from 9 months do 6 months. In practice, this report is the first indication of the likelihood that a patent will be granted. If the report is produced more quickly, this may mean that the applicant has more time to take the next steps before the priority date.
  • a new provisional registration system will be introduced – the legislation will mean that the priority date for registration of an invention can be stipulated once the simple procedure has been completed, with no danger of it losing its innovative features. Provisional registration will be possible to reserve priority for a patent. Under the bill, the procedure will be made as simple as possible through various means, such as no requirement to file the patent claims.

This quite revolutionary change applies to utility model registrations, for which a register system would be introduced (in the same way as for industrial designs) and not an examination system. The examination system is the system in place today – the Polish Patent Office examines the grounds for granting protection of the utility model. This would certainly reduce the time in which protection of the design is granted, while on the other hand this right could be ‘devalued’ – there would be a shift in stress from the registration procedure to a subsequent invalidation procedure, which would undermine certainty in legal transactions.

The major changes intended to streamline the granting of protection for trademarks include replacement of the objection system with an opposition system, and a reduction of the time limit for filing opposition from three to two months from the date of publication of the application. In addition, the current two-month compulsory cooling-off period will be abolished. It is interesting why Polish lawmakers wish to reduce these time limits, as they are effective in the EU procedure, and complaints about tardiness of the EU procedure are rare. Also, the abolishing of the compulsory two-month cooling-off period is not a good thing. It is clear from experience that this ‘forced action’ has meant that on several occasions settlement proceedings have been commenced and a settlement reached.

The coming months will reveal whether all of the ideas described above, and others as well of course, will be processed in the Sejm and adopted. QI 2022 promises to be interesting in this regard.