Recently, the EPO has initiated work on a new interesting possibility for European patent applicants.
Namely, the EPO has reported having signed an agreement with the Tunisian government on the validation of European patents for Tunisia. A similar agreement has previously, in 2013, been signed with the Moroccan government.
According to the agreements, European patents validated in these countries will have the same legal effect as Moroccan and Tunisian national patents, even if neither Morocco nor Tunisia is an EPC contracting state. Also, European patents validated in these countries will be subject to Moroccan and Tunisian patent legislation. Morocco and Tunisia will thus become States recognizing European patents upon request or, in terms of the EPC, Extension States.
However, the Moroccan and Tunisian governments will first have to ratify the agreements before they enter into force. To do so it is also possible that the Tunisian and Moroccan legislation must first be amended.
Furthermore, it is not yet established what documents will be required for validation, what the official fees applicable will be and what the translation requirements will be.
Until, and by all likelihood also after, ratification of these agreements patent protection in Morocco and Tunisia may be obtained by filing national patent applications and/or PCT national phase applications.
Furthermore, in light of the above, it is worth noting that patent protection in Morocco extends to Tangier and Western Sahara.
Troels Peter Rørdam, European Patent Attorney & Certified Danish Patent Agent
Link to the EPO press release