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Reviewed 10 November 2011

PCT(UK) Fast Track

The practice disclosed in this notice has been updated, please see Relaxation of requirements for PCT(UK) Fast Track (8 June 2012) for more details.

Background

1. As of 28 May 2010, patent applicants can request accelerated examination in the UK national phase if their international application has received a positive International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP)*. This service is available whether the IPRP* has been issued under Chapter I or Chapter II of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)1

Requirements

2. In order to qualify for this service, all claims present in the application on entry to the national phase must have been examined and found to meet the requirements for novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability in the international phase. Therefore all claims present in the application on entry to the national phase must have been considered in the IPRP*.

3. If the IPRP* states in Box III that certain claims have not been examined, then acceleration is not available under this service.

4. Similarly, if any objections to novelty, inventive step or industrial applicability have been raised in Box V of the IPRP*, then acceleration is not available under this service.

5. This service will apply to existing PCT applications which have already entered the UK national phase as well as to applications entering the national phase from 28 May 2010 onwards.

Procedure

6. The applicant must make a request for accelerated examination in writing, indicating that their application has received a positive IPRP*. The Office will require no further reasons for accelerated examination to take place.

7. It is helpful if any correspondence in relation to accelerated applications is clearly marked as such, for example by boldly indicating "URGENT - ACCELERATED PROCESSING REQUESTED". This will help us to identify correspondence relating to accelerated applications as early as possible after the Office has received the correspondence and thus ensure that the examiner receives this correspondence as quickly as possible.

8. In the unlikely circumstance that WIPO is delayed in supplying a copy of the IPRP*, we may ask the applicant to provide a copy of this document in order to expedite the process.

9. Each request for accelerated examination will be considered by a patent examiner, who will confirm whether the request for accelerated examination has been allowed or refused. In the event of a refusal, reasons for refusal will be provided. If the request is allowed, accelerated examination will take place. Our current target is to issue a substantive examination report within 2 months of receipt of the request for accelerated examination, on at least 90% of cases.

10. The usual opportunity for voluntary amendment under rule 31(4) will be available after issue of the first examination report.

Further Information

11. You can find further information about the various accelerated services we offer in our patents fast grant guidance PDF document(45Kb).

Enquiries

12. Any enquiries about this notice should be made to:

Sarah Barker
Patents Legal Section

Intellectual Property Office
Concept House
Cardiff Road
Newport
South Wales
NP10 8QQ
United Kingdom

Tel:  +44 (0) 1633 814807
Fax: +44 (0) 1633 814491

Sean Dennehey
Director of Patents
Intellectual Property Office

28 May 2010

1 Following receipt of an International Search Report and Written Opinion issued under Chapter I of the PCT, the applicant has the option of requesting an International Preliminary Examination under Chapter II of the PCT. This involves further examination of the patentability of the invention. Whether the application proceeds under Chapter I or Chapter II, an IPRP is issued at the end of the international phase.  28 May 2010

* If the IPRP has not yet been issued, a positive Written Opinion of the International Searching Authority (ISA) is also acceptable as a reason for acceleration under the PCT(UK) Fast Track service since the Written Opinion will later be re-issued as the IPRP under PCT Chapter I (see paragraph 89B.17.1 of the Manual of Patent Practice).  10 November 2011