Further ways to accelerate examination 

Where applicants file a request for examination before the search report is transmitted to them, they may also dispense with the need to comply with the invitation pursuant to Rule 70(2), and file a categorical request for examination whatever the result of the search may be, by which the procedure can also be accelerated (see the Notice from the EPO dated 30 November 2015, OJ EPO 2015, A93). In this case, confirmation that they desire to proceed further with their application is deemed to be given when the search report is transmitted to them, so that in accordance with Rule 62(1) the search report is not accompanied by a search opinion. Under these circumstances, if the application is not in order for grant, a communication under Art. 94(3), and Rule 71(1) and Rule 71(2) is transmitted to the applicant. Own-volition amendments under Rule 137(2) may in that case be submitted by the applicant in reply to this communication (see C‑III, 2).

If the application is in order for grant, the subsequent procedure will depend on whether or not it is possible at that time to carry out the search for conflicting European applications according to Art. 54(3) (see C‑IV, 7.1 and B‑XI, 7). If that search can be carried out and assuming that it does not identify any conflicting applications, then the communication under Rule 71(3) is transmitted to the applicant. If it cannot yet be carried out, then the communication from the examining division will be postponed until the said search is completed. If the European patent application is subsequently withdrawn before the substantive examination has begun, the examination fee will be refunded in full. If substantive examination has already begun, withdrawal of the application may still result in a refund of 50% of the examination fee in the cases laid down in Art. 11(b) RFees (for more details see A‑VI, 2.5 and OJ EPO 2016, A49).

The applicant can also accelerate the processing of Euro-PCT applications by waiving the right to the communication under Rule 161 and Rule 162 (see E‑IX, 3.1) or by filing an explicit request for early processing of an international application by the EPO as designated/elected Office (see E‑IX, 2.8).


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