INFORMATION FROM THE EPO
Notice dated 1 December 1995 concerning the application of Article 97(6) EPC - Acceleration of the proceedings
(6) At the request of the applicant, mention of grant of the European patent shall be published before expiry of the time limit under paragraph 4 or 5. Such request may only be made if the requirements pursuant to paragraphs 2 and 5 are met.
2. The new provision gives applicants an additional opportunity to accelerate grant of the European patent by meeting all the formal requirements for grant at an early date. The time gained may amount to several months, depending on when the prescribed request is made.
3. The request takes effect, and results in the five-month waiting period under Article 97(4) and (5) EPC ceasing to apply, only if the applicant has already performed the following acts by the time he makes the request or if he performs them at the same time as he makes the request:
- indication of approval of the communication under Rule 51(4) EPC,
- payment of the fee for grant, including the fee for printing (Rule 51(6) EPC, Article 2, No. 8, Rules relating to Fees),
- filing of translations of the claims in the two official languages of the EPO other than the language of proceedings (Rule 51(6) EPC),
- payment of the renewal fees and any additional fees already due (Article 97(2)(c) EPC).
Furthermore, the request may only be processed if, where appropriate,
- fees for any additional claims have been paid (Rule 51(7) EPC) and
- a translation of the priority document or the corresponding declaration (Rule 38(4) EPC) has been filed.
To avoid delaying grant on the basis of Rule 51(9) EPC the applicant is advised, at the same time as filing the request, to
- pay the next renewal fee if the request is made less than three months before the due date (the fee will be reimbursed if the mention of grant is published in the current patent year).
4. If all these conditions are met, the decision to grant is issued without delay. The applicant may then expect the mention of grant to be published (Article 97(4) EPC) within two months. This period is required in any case for internal processing by the EPO and for the technical preparations for publication, so that a request under Article 97(6) EPC only has an effect if it is made as early as possible (immediately after receipt of the Rule 51(6) EPC communication or, where appropriate, on the basis of the Rule 51(4) EPC communication). Reference is made in this connection to point 7 of the PACE programme (immediate approval of the Rule 51(4) EPC communication), which enables the communication under Rule 51(6) EPC to be notified without delay.