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Prosecuting a patent application from filing to grant can be a long winded process lasting, in some cases, many years. An application needs to be searched and then published before being examined. Delays at the UK Intellectual Property Office in certain technology fields can mean that examination reports take years rather than months to issue and delays at the European Patent Office (EPO) have, in extreme cases, meant that applications have remained pending for even longer.
In many cases applicants may be happy to proceed at a slow pace because it allows an invention to be developed and marketing/commercialisation plans put in place. The cost of the patent process can also be spread out over time. There are however circumstances where a more speedy grant would be useful, for example where you think someone is using your invention and you want a granted patent to allow some kind of infringement action to be taken or where an investor asks for a granted patent before they release funds for the development of your company/invention.
Both the UKIPO and the EPO offer a range of acceleration procedures that can help get a granted patent more quickly. The various options for these two patent offices are discussed below. (more…)