December 22, 2015

Revised programme for accelerated prosecution of European patent applications (PACE)

According to the EPO notice dated November 30, 2015, the programme for accelerated prosecution of European patent applications (PACE) was revised. The main features of this procedure remain unchanged. Particularly, accelerated prosecution is still conducted on written request without publishing thereof. The request still can be declined on condition of the EPO’s workload in certain technical field. Also, applicants may be demanded to limit the number of their PACE requests or to make a selection.

At the same time, some upgrades into the PACE procedure were provided.

  • From now an applicant is required to use the dedicated EPO form to enter the accelerated procedure. This form must be filed online. The requests filed without using such form or / and on paper will not be proceeded.
  • A PACE request should be filed for each prosecution stage, i.e. for search and examination separately.
  • Conditions for removing an application from the PACE programme were clarified. Now an application is removed from the programme in one of such cases: the request is withdrawn; an applicant requests an extension of time limits; an application is refused, withdrawn or is deemed to be withdrawn. The second request for the same application at the same stage will not be proceeded.
  • As revised, applicants who filed their EPO patent applications on or after July 1, 2014, may obtain the European search report within six month from filing date without sending the PACE request. For the applications sent before July 1, 2014, rules for entering the accelerated procedure remain the same as before: no separate request is needed for applications without claiming a priority; an accelerated search should be requested for applications which claim priority.
  • Detailed conditions for starting the accelerated search procedure were also determined by the revised edition.
  • Requirements for requesting the accelerated examination were slightly changed. Under the new PACE procedure such examination can be requested at any time once responsibility for the application is passed to the examining division.

The updated PACE programme will take effect on January 1, 2016 and its provisions will apply to PACE requests filed on and after this date.

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Author: Lynda Miller