Andorra has a well-deserved reputation as a wonder of nature. In spite of its tiny size (468 Km2) it offers the best of both worlds: endless trekking tracks leading you to the most remote lakes and peaks in summer, ski resorts with up to 193 km of slopes in a single resort in winter and, for those who are fond of shopping, a string of endless shops which is a shopper’s paradise. Let alone some of the most formidable and best-kept Romanesque churches in Europe. Visiting this wide array of incredible churches scattered in the middle of nowhere throughout the mountains of Andorra is a breath-taking experience.
But if these wonders were not enough, in 2016 patent aficionados will have an additional reason to take a closer look at Andorra: the new Patent Act will become operational.
Llei 26/2014, del 30 d’ octubre de Patents (“Patent Law 26/2014, of 30 October”, hereinafter “the Patent Act”) was published in the Official Gazette of the Principat d’Andorra (“Andorra”) on 26 November 2014 and, in principle, it is applicable since 26 December 2014, except Chapter IX, which will come into force once the agreement negotiated with the European Patent Organization for the purpose of validating European patents in Andorra is ratified and comes into force and Chapter X, which will come into force once the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) is ratified and comes into force for Andorra.
The Patent Act empowered (First and Second Final Provisions) the Government to approve the Implementing Regulations and the necessary agreements and instruments to conduct the validation of European patents in Andorra and the accession of Andorra to the PCT and to the European Patent Convention (“EPC”). Against this background, on 15 July 2015 the Government approved the Implementing Regulations, which were published in the Official Gazette of the Principat d’Andorra on 22 July 2015. It should be mentioned, in passing, that they are very similar to the EPC’s Implementing Regulations, as one of their purposes is to align Andorra with the EPC’s standards in anticipation of the future accession of Andorra to the EPC. However, unlike most modern patent laws, Andorra’s Patent Act follows a procedure without substantive examination.
Although, as mentioned, the Implementing Regulations were published on 22 July 2015, their practical application was suspended for six months, as a “warm-up” period was needed to provide the Patent Office with the technical and human resources needed to prosecute patent applications and create a body of patent agents pursuant to the Implementing Regulations.
As this “warm-up” period is now coming to an end, those wishing to trek into Andorra’s patent trails should start preparing their backpacks.