Various changes have recently been published in respect of the Russian Patent Law, which will come into force on 12 March 2003.

Of particular significance are the following points:

·         The 20 year term of a patent relating to a pharmaceutical, pesticide, or agrochemical will now be extensible by 5 years on request by the patentee, if a licence is required to use these substances. The request for an extension of the term should be filed within 6 months from the date of the granted licence or from the grant date of the patent, whichever occurs later. This provision applies both to patents that were granted before the introduction of the new law (12 March 2003), and those granted after that date

·         It will be possible to restore a patent for which an annuity was not paid in the due time, or within the 6 month grace period thereafter. The restoration must be applied for within 3 years from the missed due date, but before the expiry date of the patent. This possibility will apply equally to patents which have lapsed before the date of introduction of the new law, provided that neither the three year restoration period nor the term of the patent have expired.

·         In respect of non-PCT derived applications, a certified copy of the priority document will now need to be filed within 16 months from the earliest priority date.

·         The term for filing a request for examination of a patent application will be extensible by 2 months. If examination is not duly requested, it will be possible to restore the application within 12 months, if a good reason for missing the due date is presented.

·         The due date for responding to an official action will not be extensible for more than 10 months, although, if a good reason can be presented, further extensions may still be possible. However, the Patent Office will take a very strict standpoint on the granting of extensions over 10 months, even if good reasons are presented, and in practice the maximum extension of time attainable will therefore be 10 months.

·         Before a final decision as to the patentability of an application is issued, a notification on the results of the substantive examination will be sent to the applicant, who will have the opportunity to respond within 6 months. This change to the law will therefore improve the rights of the patentee, since there will now be a final chance to amend the claims before the acceptance decision issues.

Whilst these changes to the Russian Patent Law require further clarification, we hope that such clarification will be possible once the new Regulations become available.