The prospect of patent infringement proceedings or the search for funding or partners are examples of situations in which one may wish to have a patent granted as quickly as possible.
There are various ways of speeding up the grant proceedings of a patent.
Many patent offices (Europe, USA, China, Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia, etc.) participate in the PPH (Patent Prosecution Highway) programme, which consists of mutual recognition of the examination work carried out by them.
The PPH programme allows a patent application to be processed in an accelerated manner if the claims of a corresponding application are considered patentable by a partner office in this programme.
There are certain conditions that must be met in order to request this treatment, such as the claims sufficiently corresponding to the patentable claims of the corresponding patent application.
With regard to obtaining a European patent, it is possible to request an accelerated search and then an accelerated examination at the European Patent Office under the so-called "PACE" programme (programme for accelerated prosecution of European patent applications).
Such an accelerated treatment implies in return a certain reactivity from the applicant at each step of the procedure. If an extension of time limits is requested, for example, the European patent application will automatically be excluded from the PACE programme.
It is also possible to accelerate the grant proceedings of a European patent application at specific stages of the procedure by waiving the sending of certain notifications by the European Patent Office, for example via a request for unconditional examination, irrespective of the results of the search carried out to reveal the relevant prior art documents for the purpose of assessing the novelty and inventive step of an invention.
There is also a mechanism for accelerating the proceedings in France. The French Patent Office (INPI) undertakes to grant patents within 20 months of the filing date of a French patent application while the average time is usually 27 months.
This must be required within 10 months of the filing date of a French patent application and must satisfy certain conditions, including obtaining a positive search report. It should be noted that it may also lead to early publication, the possible consequences of which should be monitored, particularly in relation to the priority period.
INPI also offers the possibility of requesting an accelerated grant, within 24 months, of patent applications relating to innovations related to anti-COVID treatments or devices or involved in the diagnosis or treatment of COVID.
Finally, it should be noted that grant proceedings will always be faster if the application is carefully drafted, based on a precise knowledge of the state of the art (patentability study carried out beforehand) and taking into account local rules and constraints.
In this respect, it is important during international extensions to adapt the form of the applications to local requirements rather than filing texts identical to that of the priority application. The use of a patent attorney with a precise knowledge of local law is therefore an undeniable asset for speeding up proceedings and securing rights.
The interest in using one or other of these mechanisms must therefore be considered on a case-by-case basis. Do not hesitate to contact your favorite patent attorney to study the opportunity to use one or the other of these systems for your own patents.
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