From filing to grant, the procedure for obtaining a patent can take time. In the increasingly fast-paced technological world we live in, this time is too long for some applicants. By the time a patent has been granted the market may have moved on, so ensuring your patent portfolio reflects the current market can be a challenge.
We regularly work with our clients to address this challenge. One of the ways this can be done is to take advantage of the European Patent Office (EPO) programme for accelerated search and examination, called “PACE”. By requesting PACE for an application, the EPO will issue communications on that application faster than they otherwise would. For example, examination reports should be issued within about 3 months. Taking advantage of this programme has the potential to knock years off the prosecution time of your patent application.
Requesting PACE is simple and straightforward – all that is needed is to file a form at the EPO. No reasons need to be given and no official fees need to be paid. It is possible to request PACE for accelerated search and/or accelerated examination.
Recent changes to PACE require that a separate request is made for each of the prosecution stages (search and examination). Additionally, it is only possible to request PACE once during each stage – this means that should an application ‘drop off’ the PACE scheme (for example, if a deadline is missed or an extension of time to a deadline is requested), it is not possible to request PACE again during that prosecution stage. Therefore, if PACE has been requested for an application, efforts should be taken to respond promptly to communications issued by the EPO.
If you are interested in requesting PACE for any of your European patent applications, please contact your usual Boult Wade Tennant attorney.