Tuesday, 13 February 2007
The UK Patent Office has announced that they are getting together with the European Patent Office in a pilot project aimed at speeding up the patenting process. The Utilization [sic] Pilot Project will allow certain applications to enter a fast track system to get an Extended European Search Report (essentially a search report combined with a cut-down, though still thorough, examination report) within 3-6 months of the request.
The project will run for 12 months as from 1 April this year, but the forms are available now (here and here). Only European applications that claim priority from a searched UK application, and which were not searched by the EPO in the international phase, can apply. This project is also separate from the long-standing PACE system to speed up examination at the EPO.
The IPKat is enthusiastically in favour of projects that allow applicants to get European patents quicker, as the EPO does have a reputation for being rather snail-like. Some people do, however, like to use this reputation to keep their options open for as long as possible. This project is unlikely to affect this for the foreseeable future.