Working Group on Licences and Technical Contracts Holds Teleconference

During a teleconference at the beginning of May, the experts from BIO Deutschland’s Working Group on Licences and Technical Contracts discussed the latest developments on the interparty motion in the Bundestag (lower chamber) to amend the EU directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions that was submitted by the parliamentary groups supporting the government. The working group also discussed its planned survey on patent legislation. 

The interparty motion (Bundestag printed paper 17/8344, available in German only) that aims to amend the directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions (Directive 98/44/EC) was adopted in the Bundestag on 9 February. As a result, the Federal Government was requested to effect an amendment to Directive 98/44/EC at the European level. Talks with the European Commission had shown that there are no plans to amend the directive. It is therefore highly likely that the German motion will be rejected.

The working group is also planning to conduct a survey to find out which positive effects would arise from the introduction of a grace period for biotechnological inventions. The reason for the survey is that the USA has been urging Europe to introduce a grace period as part of an international standardisation of patent legislation. The USA has already adapted its patent system to the European model (from “first to invent” to “first to file”, as reported by BIO Deutschland in the November 2011 edition of “Rechtsinfo aktuell”). This information comes from talks with the Federal Ministry of Justice. The working group’s patent legislation experts also want to find out about the impact of the time limit on divisional applications. As of April 2010, the European Patent Office introduced a rigid time limit of 24 months during which divisional applications can be submitted in follow-up to the first communication. At the time, the working group clearly stated in a position paper that, due to the complex nature of biotechnological inventions, five to ten divisional applications quickly need to be submitted in order to ensure comprehensive patent protection. The new regulation on divisional applications will be put into practice for the first time this year, as the two-year limit will run out in the first cases. The working group will discuss further action after it has evaluated the survey findings.

The minutes of the teleconference will shortly be available to BIO Deutschland members at the association’s office (Tel.: +49-(0)30-3450593-30, e-mail:

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