On October 2nd, 2016 the Common Administrative Procedure of the Public Administrations Act 39/2015 has entered into force, repealing the current Law 30/1992 which until now regulated this matter.
This law is particularly relevant for the relations between citizens and the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office as it supplements everything that is not regulated for the administrative procedure by special laws (Trademark, Patent and Design Act and their implementing regulations).
Broadly speaking, it can be established that this law is aimed to the adaptation of the procedural law to the implementation of e-government, which allows a reduction of the terms of the procedure and speed it up. This implies, among other particulars that, although in some cases the ‘double way’ is maintained (i.e. it is possible to submit documents in paper or on-line) electronic filing is mandatory for professional representatives.
This Act is also aimed to encourage the audience and participation of citizens in the development of regulations, making possible the enquiries in advance, and taking all the necessary steps to make the interpretation of the rules predictable.
Further, the new law introduces changes in respect of deadlines to be met, which from now on may also be counted in hours. Further, it is considered that Saturday is not a working day in all the cases (although the latter was already contemplated in our special law).
Administrative silence regulation provides that in proceedings initiated ex parte, the expiry of the deadline without an express decision being issued, can be interpreted in the sense that the petition has been upheld. However, we have to wait to see to which extent and in which way the SPTO is going to implement this provision in its relations with citizens.
Concerning the appeal system, ordinary and extraordinary appeals are maintained, notwithstanding the additional possibility to request the annulment of administrative decisions in the cases provided by law, although annulment is not very usual before SPTO.
Another issue that may favorably affect relations between citizens with the SPTO, are the tools provided to gradually eliminate the obligation to provide original documents or documents that have already been submitted to the Public Administration. This provision already existed in Law 30/1992, although the new regulation goes more into detail about it and clarifies it.