Despite the economic downturn and recent reduced rates of patent filings, there still remain large back logs of pending patent applications at various Patent Office.
Here are some figures:
European Patent Office – approximately ½ million pending patent applications
Japanese Patent Office – approximately 1 million pending applications
US Patent Office – approximately 1.25 million patent applications pending
Due to budget cut backs at National patent offices and a drop in new filings which carry significant official fees, (US patent application filings are down an estimated 15% from levels around 1 year ago), many patent offices are either maintaining their existing patent examiner staff numbers or are reducing staff. For example, the UK patent office made around 100 redundancies earlier this year, which included some front line examiners.
The net result is that backlogs of pending applications are unlikely to clear quickly, and processing delays will continue at least into the immediate future.
How to minimise patent processing delays:
To minimise delays and progress your patent applications through to grant as quickly as possible, several steps can be taken, including:
Attend to all formal matters at the outset, such as the search request, search fees, exam request and exam fees, designation of inventor and formal drawings;
File a full application at the outset, and avoid so called "provisional" procedures in which a full patent application is not filed;
Request accelerated prosecution for some types of technology, such as carbon reducing technologies, where procedures exist, e.g. at the UK patent office;
Request combined search and examination at the outset (for UK applications) so as to get a quicker response from the patent office;
For European applications request the "Pace" accelerated prosecution procedure;
Instruct your Chartered or European patent attorney to proactively manage the case, and respond to their requests for instructions promptly.
Clients who take the above steps are likely to experience lower delays, and therefore gain a competitive granted patent advantage over other businesses who let their applications languish in the long queues for patent examination.
Please call our office if you wish to accelerate the progress of your patent applications towards grant.
Article Published July 3, 2009