When handling applications before the European Patent Office (EPO), we frequently encounter enquiries regarding the speed of examination. While the EPO has recently increased the speed at which it conducts examination, individual national patent applications are still the fastest method of progressing an application to grant.
In the UK, accelerating prosecution of a patent application before the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) is both straightforward and cost-effective. Three main options for accelerating prosecution are available, with these options potentially being used either individually or in combination.
When filing a UK patent application from a pending international application, the most common method of accelerating examination is the submission of a request for accelerated processing. This request will ensure that the examiner issues each subsequent communication promptly, and within a maximum period of three months of any response filed by the applicant. In the UK, unlike before the EPO, a reason must be given to support the need for accelerated processing. In practice, the UKIPO is very accommodating of requests for accelerated processing.
Alternatively, where the UK patent application is the first filed application, its examination can be hastened by filing both the search and examination requests at the date of filing, by requesting accelerated processing, or by accelerating publication of the application. Where all of these options are combined, grant of a UK patent may occur in as little as nine months from the date of filing.
Rapid patent grant in the UK can provide added confidence in corresponding applications, which may subsequently benefit from a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) scheme. The comparative ease with which a patent application can be filed and accelerated at the UKIPO, coupled with a lack of geographical restriction on the residency of an applicant of a first-filed application, can make the UK a very attractive option for a first filing, particularly if an inexpensive and expeditious grant is required.
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