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Expediting the European Grant Procedure

Date: 22 January 2016

In our Patent Issues Autumn 2014 publication, we reported on the European Patent Office's "Early Certainty from Search" scheme (ECfS) aiming at issuing all search reports and written opinions within six months of filing, prioritising completion of older cases over beginning work on new ones, and expediting grant once a "positive search opinion" has been issued.


After investigations, we speculated that the hierarchy of priority in the ECfS scheme could look like this:


  • Top priority: Expediting "positive search opinion" cases direct to grant;
  • Medium priority: Searches on new applications;
  • Low priority: First communication/first response;
  • Very low priority: Oppositions;
  • Out of sight: Dealing with older/existing open cases.​

The average time for European grant procedure is still above the 40 month mark and, without positive action from the Applicant, the applications at the bottom of this priority scale risk being left to languish in the EPO backlog pile.


In November 2015, the EPO issued two notices, namely OJ EPO 2015 A93 relating to the PACE procedure and OJ EPO 2015 A94 relating to other ways to expedite the European grant procedure.


Click here to read the full document.