On 23 January 2017, a validation agreement was signed between the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the European Patent Organisation to extend, upon request of the applicant, European patent applications and patents to Cambodia. The agreement has not yet entered into force but is expected to do so later this year, once it has been adopted into Cambodian national law. See here for further details.
This follows several other validation agreements between the EPO and non-member states. In March 2015, a validation agreement entered into force between the EPO and Morocco, closely followed in November 2015 by a validation agreement that entered into force between the EPO and Moldova. In July 2014, an agreement was signed between the Republic of Tunisia and the EPO, although this has not yet come into effect. The latest agreement between the EPO and Cambodia marks a significant development because it is the first agreement to extend the geographical scope of European patents way outside of Europe and its neighbouring countries. It is a positive development for applicants, who are able to seek protection for an increasing number of countries when filing their European patent application.
It will be interesting to see whether other agreements emerge and in which countries, and ultimately how many more countries will join the “European” patent system in future!