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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…)
Under current arrangements the EPO refunds 75% of the examination fee after the examining division has assumed responsibility for the case but before substantive examination has actually begun. In order to provide transparency over whether substantive examination has begun the EPO also posts a notice on the EP patents register to let applicants know when substantive examination has started.
As from 1 July 2016 the EPO is going a stage further (see EPO News Item) and is now starting to inform applicants, if operationally possible, at least two months in advance of the date on which it intends to start substantive examination. Any application that is withdrawn, refused or deemed to be withdrawn before such substantive examination has begun will get a full (100%) exam fee refund instead of the previous 75% rate. (more…)