The European Patent Office (EPO) is changing some aspects of the PACE programme for accelerating processing of European patent applications. The changes take effect from 1st January 2016.
Headline changes to be aware of:
- PACE requests must be made using Form 1005 and must be filed online.
- A PACE request must be filed for each stage (search and examination) that you want to accelerate:
- a PACE request filed during the search stage will not accelerate examination, so you can’t request PACE for both search and examination at the same time any more.
- You can only file a PACE request for examination once the application has been passed to the ED.
- PACE can only be requested once during each stage, so if an application drops out of PACE (see next point) it can’t re-enter PACE.
- An application will be removed from the PACE programme if:
- the PACE request has been withdrawn,
- the applicant has requested an extension of time limits (so get your OA response in during the initial 4 month term),
- the application has been refused,
- the application has been withdrawn,
- the application is deemed to be withdrawn (so missing a deadline and requesting further processing will mean the application drops out of PACE).
Accelerated processing will be suspended if renewal fees are not paid by the due date (you can’t make use of the 6 month grace period).
Click here to see the full notice on the EPO web site.