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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/patents-fast-grant/patents-fast-grant-guidance
1. Getting your patent granted more quickly
Getting your patent granted may sometimes seem like a long process. Your application must first be searched, then published, and then examined before it can be granted. We do however offer ways of speeding things up in certain circumstances and together these accelerated procedures can help you get a granted patent much more quickly.
2. Will a fast grant be helpful
You should think carefully about whether a fast grant is in your best interests. For example, the earlier your patent application is published the earlier the technology is in the public domain. Many applicants are happy to proceed to grant at a slower pace because it enables them to develop and plan the commercialisation and marketing of their invention whilst the patent application process continues. It gives them time to determine whether their invention is commercially viable before committing to a greater financial outlay.
There are however circumstances when a fast grant of a patent may be particularly helpful. For example you may see someone infringing your patent application and may want to get a quicker grant in order to be able to take action. Or an investor may require a granted patent before they are willing to invest in your invention (although some investors may be satisfied with the filing of a patent application).
3. We offer three types of accelerated service
- combined search and examination (CSE)
- accelerated search and/or examination
- accelerated publication
Details of these three services are available below. Combined search and examination and accelerated publication are available upon request but to accelerate search or examination you must either demonstrate to us why it is important to you that these be accelerated or demonstrate that your invention relates to a ‘green’ technology (see Patents: accelerated processing). You can also obtain accelerated examination under certain circumstances if your application is an international application which you are pursuing in the UK national phase (see Practice Notice: PCT(UK) Fast Track).
4. How can you use these to get a fast grant
If you request, at the time of filing your application, all three of the above services (and provide adequate reasons for wanting things accelerated – see below) and respond promptly to our reports and letters then you can get your patent granted very quickly – for example in less than a year.
4.1 Example fast track timeline:
Even if you are not able or do not wish to provide us with adequate reasons for wanting things accelerated, you can still request combined search and examination and accelerated publication which, if you respond promptly to our reports and letters, can still get your patent granted quickly.
5. Combined search and examination
Most applicants request examination of their patent application some time after receiving the results of the search. If you file your requests for search and examination at the same time we will however do the examination at the same time as the search and issue a combined report. This will start the examination process much sooner and thus helps to get your application ready for grant more quickly. You don’t need to provide us with any reasons for wanting to use this service. You will normally receive both the search and the examination reports within six months of requesting search and examination.
6. Accelerated search and examination
For normal applications we aim to issue search reports within about six months. But there may be occasions when you want a search (or a combined search and examination) more quickly, and in such circumstances you can request this. You will however have to give us adequate reasons for your application to jump the queue (see below). Your actions may be a factor in deciding whether to agree to the request. For example a delay in requesting search may in some circumstances count against you.
You can also request an accelerated examination. As for accelerated search, you need to give us adequate reasons for your examination to be accelerated. You can request accelerated examination at any time, even before the application has been searched, in which case you can ask for accelerated combined search and examination.
6.1 What do you get if your search, examination or CSE are accelerated:
If we agree to your request for accelerated search, examination or CSE, the examiner will arrange a timescale with you as to when a report will be issued. If your examination or CSE is accelerated, all subsequent amendment actions will also be accelerated providing your actions continue to demonstrate a desire to process your application quickly. We have an agency target to issue a substantive response to an allowable request for accelerated processing within 2 months in 90% of cases.
6.2 What sort of reasons will the Intellectual Property Office accept to allow accelerated processing:
If your invention relates to a ‘green’ technology then we will allow accelerated search or examination on your application (see Patents: accelerated processing). Whether or not the reasons provided will be sufficient for us to allow a request for accelerated search or examination in other areas of technology will depend very much on the circumstances of the case in question, however for a reason to be acceptable it will need to be specific to the particular application. For example, if you demonstrate that you need a patent granted quickly because you are aware of a potential infringer, or need a faster search, examination or grant in order to secure an investor, then we are likely to accede to your request for accelerated processing.
We are also likely to accede to your request for accelerated processing if you require a faster grant of a GB patent in order to subsequently request accelerated processing under the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) at another Office (see Patent Prosecution Highway for more details on the PPH).
If your application is an international application which you are pursuing in the UK national phase, we will allow accelerated examination in certain circumstances if your international application received a positive International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP) or a positive Written Opinion of the International Searching Authority (WO-ISA) (see Practice Notice: PCT(UK) Fast Track for more details).
7. Accelerated publication
Most applications are published eighteen months from their filing date (or priority date if they have one). You can however request that your application be published early by requesting accelerated publication. If you make such a request your application will be published in about six weeks from our receipt of your request (provided the search has been done and the necessary formal requirements have been met). This helps achieve a fast grant as a patent cannot be granted until three months after the application has been published. This is to allow a period for interested parties to make observations on the patentability of the invention.
Before asking to accelerate publication, we advise you to get advice from a patent attorney. Accelerated publication could prematurely alert other people to your activities and shorten the time available to develop your product and investigate the potential market prior to your invention being made public - once an application is published all the information in it is available to the public. A published application may also mean that a subsequent application for the same matter is not new or not inventive, and thus not patentable.
8. How do you request these accelerated services
Combined search and examination:
Your application will automatically be subject to combined search and examination if you file your requests for search and examination at the same time.
Accelerated search or examination:
A request for accelerated search or examination must be made in writing (by post or using our online filing service). If you want to request accelerated processing at the same time as filing your patent application, you can include the request in a covering letter which is clearly labelled. An examiner will consider your request and will confirm whether or not your request has been allowed, based on the reasons you give.
It is helpful to us if you clearly mark any request for acceleration as:
Urgent acceleration requested
You should then set out the reasons why you need your search or examination to be accelerated. You should also state which actions you would like to be accelerated (for example search, examination, or both). This will help us to identify correspondence relating to accelerated applications as early as possible and ensure that the examiner receives this correspondence as quickly as possible.
A request for accelerated publication must be made in writing (by post or using our online filing service). No reasons are needed, but you should clearly mark your request as:
Urgent accelerated publication requested