The EPO allows for accelerated prosecution of the applications, which significantly reduces the time of prosecution from three-plus years to under 12 months similar to the US Patent Office. This dedicated accelerated prosecution program is titled PACE. The uniqueness of this program is that this allows for the accelerated prosecution of both the indigenous patent applications filed with the European Patent Office and the Euro-PCT applications for no official fee. The drawback of this is that there may be some Applicants filing always under the PACE program. In some technical fields this may not be possible due to the high number of such requests, therefore the EPO mandates a selection of only a few applications under the PACE program amongst all of their Applications.
How does one go about it?
A PACE request may be submitted only once for each stage of the prosecution of the Application by the Applicants. For instance, one PACE request may be filed for an application during the search stage and another request may be a file for the examination stage. It is to be noted that an application under the PACE program under the search phase will not automatically qualify for examination under the PACE program. A new and separate request has to be filed for the same.
It is pertaining to note that the Accelerated search request can only be processed when the application is complete. This means that the claims, the description, the required translations, wherever applicable, the drawings, and a sequence listing in conformity to the rules have been filed.
As soon as the examining division of the European Patent Office has taken responsibility for an indigenous patent application filed, the Accelerated Examination request can be filed. As far as a Euro-PCT application is concerned, the request for accelerated examination may be filed any time after entry into the national phase of the PCT application with the EPO or along with the response to the WO-ISA or the IPER.
The European Patent Office issues the first examination communications within 3 months. The subsequent replies to the applicant’s responses are also issued within the said time frame which substantially reduces the prosecution timeframe. This is particularly useful for small businesses and start-ups looking for investments or partnerships or licensing opportunities where a patent may be granted well within 12 months and with no extra cost and with the authority of having been searched and examined by the European patent office, which comes with stringent examination procedures.
Another program under which the Applicants with the European Patent Office may get the patent advanced out of turn for examination is the Patent Prosecution Highway. Wherein the claims have been allowable with another patent office in which the corresponding application has been filed.
We at OutsourceIP are outfitted to provide the quick but extensive technical analysis and patentability arguments along with proofreading patent claims and document that may be associated with the prosecution of the Applications filed under the Acceleration examination programs also known as PACE.