Last year, filings at the European Patent Office (EPO) reached a new high, with over 265,000 new filings in 2013 (according to EPO sources). In order to cope with the increased workload whilst maintaining their high standards, the EPO recently unveiled a new initiative entitled “Early Certainty from Search”. The aim of the new initiative is to improve legal certainty for pending applications.
Specifically, the EPO have announced that under the new scheme, Examiners will be encouraged to issue search reports and patentability opinions within six months of the filing date. Examination of existing European applications will be prioritised over starting examination on new applications. Grant will be expedited on applications on which positive search opinions have issued.
Additionally, the EPO will prioritise processing of applications for cases where substantiated observations have been filed by an identified third party.
If you need further information please speak to Edward Morse or your usual advisor.