Applying for patents in the EU via the Patent Cooperation Treaty system soon could become a less desirable option for U.S. companies. Burdened by its extensive backlog of patent applications, the European Patent Office has asked the World International Patent Organization (WIPO) to be relieved of certain examination responsibilities under the treaty, which could affect biotech companies in the U.S., which make extensive use of these services.

There are two ways for an applicant from a non EPO-member country to apply for a European patent. Applicants can apply directly to the EPO using the European format for the application, or they can apply through the PCT.