3 July 2014
This month, the EPO has introduced a new scheme to improve legal certainty on pending patent applications.
Under the "Early Certainty from Search" scheme, the EPO aims to issue all search reports and written opinions on patentability within six months of filing, to prioritise the completion of examination files it has already started over beginning work on new files, and to expedite grants once a positive search opinion has been issued.
In addition, it will seek to prioritise processing of those cases where substantiated observations are filed by third parties who identify themselves, and also of oppositions and requests for limitation or revocation. .
The new scheme will benefit companies and inventors seeking patent protection in Europe by ensuring timely delivery of all search reports and opinions on their applications, giving them a sound basis for their patenting strategies early on. It will also 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.
The scheme now being implemented enjoys the support of users of the patent system, which they expressed during the consultation exercise conducted in the first half of 2014.