4.2
3.2Accelerated examination

Accelerated examination may, in principle, be requested in writing at any time. However, to be as effective as possible, it should preferably be requested:

when filing the European patent application, provided that examination is bindingly requested at the same time (see C‑VI, 3), or
after receipt of the extended search report and together with the applicant's response to the search opinion under Rule 62.

When accelerated examination is requested, the EPO makes every effort to issue the first examination communication within three months of receipt by the Examining Division of the application, the applicant's response under Rule 70a or the request for accelerated examination (whichever is later).

For Euro-PCT applications too, accelerated examination may, in principle, be requested at any time. However, to be as effective as possible, it should preferably be requested:

on entry into the European phase before the EPO, or
together with any response to the WO-ISA, IPER or SISR required under Rule 161(1).

If requested on entry into the European phase, accelerated prosecution covers formalities examination, the supplementary European search report and/or substantive examination, as applicable.

Since a communication under Rule 161(1) or Rule 161(2) is sent for a Euro-PCT application (E‑VIII, 3), the processing of a Euro-PCT application will only start after the expiry of the six-month period even if an acceleration has been requested under the PACE programme. In order to start with the supplementary European search or examination directly, the applicant, on entry into the European phase, has to explicitly waive the right to the communication pursuant to Rule 161(1) or Rule 161(2) and Rule 162, pay any claims fees due and, where required, submit a response under Rule 161(1) (see the Notice from the EPO dated 5 April 2011, OJ EPO 2011, 354).

Accelerated examination can, in principle, be requested at any time after the Examining Division has assumed responsibility for the application (Rule 10(2)(3)).

For PCT applications entering the European phase where the EPO also acted as (S)ISA, accelerated examination can, in principle, be requested at any time, for example

on entry into the European phase before the EPO, or
together with any response to the WO-ISA, IPER or SISR required under Rule 161(1).

When accelerated examination is requested, the EPO makes every effort to issue the next office action within three months of receipt by the Examining Division of the application, the applicant's response under Rule 70a or 161(1) or the request for accelerated examination (whichever is later).

The EPO strives to produce subsequent examination communications within three months of receipt of the applicant's reply, provided that the application is still being processed under the PACE programme (see E‑VII, 3).

Quick Navigation