New Year, New Standard?
Will 2015 be the year that the new Sequence Listing standard (WIPO ST.26) goes into effect?
It all depends on whether or not the Task Force, lead by the EPO, is able to provide a solution to the transitional aspect of enacting the standard. To date the discussions have been focused on the actual standard, however, now that the ST.26 standard has been agreed upon and informally adopted, the Task Force has moved its attention to determining how to put the standard into effect.
At the PCT Union - Meeting of International Authorities under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT): Twenty-Second Session scheduled to take place February 4-February 6 in Tokyo, Japan it is expected that the Task Force will present a proposal for the transition from WIPO Standard ST.25 (current requirements) to WIPO ST.26.
In our opinion, there are a couple of likely options for the transition:
(1) the acceptance of both ST.25 and ST.26 compliant listings by patent offices for a certain amount of time
(2) a hard cutoff date after which all ST.25 Sequence Listings would be rejected and all listings would need to be ST.26 compliant
With any luck the Task Force will see the benefit of option 1 to allow both the patent offices and applicants a grace period to get familiar with the new guidelines. Further to this point, it will be interesting to see if there will be the creation of a software program to convert ST.25 formatted listings into ST.26 compliant listings. If so, this could prolong the implementation of ST.26 as there will certainly be bugs to work out as with all new software programs.
Hopefully the discussions that take place at the Meeting of International Authorities provide some insight into how and when the new standard will go into effect.