19 November 2018
The EPO has launched an online user consultation on the need for more flexibility in the timing of the examination process by giving applicants the possibility of postponing the examination of European patent applications.
In recent years the EPO has introduced a number of measures to speed up the patent grant procedure through its Early Certainty initiative, and this has been welcomed by applicants and the public as it provides information about the scope of patent protection at an earlier stage. As a result, nowadays 99% of published patent applications are accompanied by their search report including a written opinion on their patentability (it was 90% in 2012).
At the same time it has also been argued that in some instances applicants might need more time before the grant of a patent as it would better suit with the development and innovation cycle of their products. This is why the Office looked for ways to inject some more flexibility in the examination phase, in order to address the various needs of the users. Discussions on the possibility to postpone the examination started with multiple stakeholders and user associations in 2017.
The EPO is now inviting all stakeholders to provide their views on the introduction of a postponed examination scheme in the European patent grant procedure, and on other possible measures to increase flexibility in the examination process.
User feedback plays a key role in helping us to enhance the quality and effectiveness of our processes and services. We welcome your input.
The user consultation runs until 11 January 2019.