From May to October 2015, Milan is hosting the EXPO with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” (http://www.expo2015.org), and excitement is mounting in the Lombardy city in the run up to the inauguration on May 1st.

The EXPO is not only a worldwide event which is expected to draw over 20 million visitors to Milan: it is particularly exciting for patent experts as well.

In fact, Art. 55 EPC, which is one of the most intriguing articles in the whole of the European Patent Convention, specifies two rare instances in which a prior disclosure of an invention is not to be considered part of the state of the art.

In the first instance, which is the most well known, a disclosure is not considered prior art if it was due to, or in consequence of, an evident abuse of the applicant or their legal predecessor. In other words, the disclosure of the invention was the result of malevolent activity, which would deprive the applicant of their rights. In this case the applicant is offered a number of tools to seek to repair the damage suffered.

In the second instance, which is the one that interests us here, a disclosure at an international exhibition, such as EXPO 2015, will not be considered prior art provided the applicant files an application with the EPO (either an EP application or an international application designating the EPO) within six months from disclosing the product. This is a dream come true for many applicants who, during EXPO 2015, will have the unique opportunity to actually test their invention on the
market and get a clear indication of whether it is worth its value before even embarking on the patenting process.

A statement according to Art. 55(2) EPC and a certificate for identification of the invention according to Rule 25 EPC are required to support the non prejudicial disclosure and to make sure that the applicant’s dream is not abruptly interrupted.

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