yes-1183407_640Much has been said in recent years about the EPO’s ‘Early Certainty from Search’ program and similar programs for examination and opposition. Since 2014, patent examiners have been pushed to increase their productivity to help reduce the time period between the filing of a patent application and its eventual grant or refusal. While patent attorneys, applicants and (strictly anonymous) examiners have now and then expressed their worries about a perceived reduction in quality of some of the ‘examination products’ and a discomforting increase of workload for examiners, the EPO has frequently advertised the success of this program. Aside from some unwanted side-effects, the main idea behind these programs is a laudable one. In the words of the EPO: “[to] benefit the general public by enhancing the transparency of pending patent rights in Europe, providing an overview of prior art and patentability at an early stage in the proceedings”. Who could ever object to that? (more…)