The Belgian Patent Law of March 28 1984 has been harmonised with the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) and the decree of issuing of European patents. The main relevant amendments relate to:
- the minimal requirements to obtain a filing date,
- the notification of irregularities issued by the Belgian Patent Office to the applicant and/or the attorney in charge,
- the automatic publication of the patent application within 18 months after the filing date or the priority date to inform the third parties,
- electronic communication with the applicant, and
- the reinstatement procedure in order to reestablish the rights of the applicant.
The requirements to get a filing date no longer include the filing of at least one claim, such as in the PLT.
According to the revised Law, when an irregularity is observed by the Belgian Patent Office, it informs the applicant about this irregularity and offers him the opportunity to regularise the application and to provide some observations. The Belgian Patent Office will communicate with the applicant electronically. In addition to this a Benelux patent platform has been developed to enable the applicant or the public to get information rapidly. This unique platform gives applicants access to the Belgian register, allows them to file patent applications electronically with the e-filing application, manage the payment of fees and monitor the information related to an application or a patent.
Last but not least, the harmonisation of the Belgian Patent Law of March 28 1984 enables the reinstatement of the applicant’s rights where a loss of rights has occurred if “all due care” can be proven. This part of the new Belgian Patent Law entered into force some months ago (see our previous publication in Managing Intellectual Property in May 2014 “Re-establishment of rights now available”). However, it is possible to revive a patent for an open window ending on March 2015 for cases for which re-validation after opposition was not done timely, even if the one year deadline of revival had expired.
This harmonisation guarantees that a huge amount of reinstatement cases have been and will be filed before the Belgian Patent Office.