EPO user consultation on the possible introduction of a postponed examination system

The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced a new consultation on the possible introduction of a postponed examination system, termed ‘User-Driven Early Certainty’. Such a postponed examination system would form part of the EPO’s ‘Early Certainty’ policy, under which the EPO aims to complete examination of a European application within 12 months, and would allow applicants to defer examination of their application for a specified period of time. Such postponement of examination is possible at all of the other IP5 patent offices (namely the US, Japan, Korea, and China).

The consultation invites views from all users of the European patent system on the potential advantages and drawbacks of postponed examination.  In particular, the EPO is looking for feedback on the perceived need for flexibility in the timeframe for examination and the impact of such flexibility on business, both in terms of an applicant’s behaviour and that of their competitors, along with views on the preferred procedural options for requesting such a postponement.

The consultation is open until 11 January 2019, and can be accessed here.