Streamlining Examination at the EPO

July 2016

The EPO has brought in a number of streamlining processes recently.  Following on from the recent streamlining of opposition procedures which comes into effect from 1 July 2016 , the EPO is considering streamlining examination proceedings.

The streamlining process currently being considered is to receive an announcement (at least two months beforehand) of the date on which the EPO intends to start substantive examination and then, for straight forward cases, to conclude Examination proceedings within one year.

On 1 July the EPO published a Decision to increase the refund available if applicants actively withdraw unwanted patent applications.  A full refund of the examination fee will be provided if an application is withdrawn prior to the commencement of substantive Examination.  Previously such refunds were limited to just 75% of the fee.

From 1 November, a 50% refund of the Examination fee will be provided if the application is withdrawn either: within the time period for response to the first examination report or (where no Examination Report has issued) prior to receipt of an Intention to Grant.*

*This applies to all European patent applications for which substantive examination starts on or after 1 November 2016.

Further guidance can be found in the accompanying Notice.

Thus, it appears the EPO is enticing applicants to actively withdraw unwanted patent applications.

This update was prepared by Catherine Coombes, Senior Patent Attorney in our York Office.  If you would like further advice on this or any other matter please contact Cath or your usual HGF representative or visit our Contact page to get in touch with your nearest HGF office.