The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) already offers a free acceleration service capable of granting patents in less than a year in limited circumstances but the Government has identified the need for a more rapid service. The IPO is proposing an additional fee of £3,500 to £4,000 for the ‘superfast’ service and no reasons justifying the acceleration will be required. As is to be expected, a few caveats will apply. For example, the search for some prior art will be completed after the grant, and the patent may then be revoked or amended as necessary.
James Worrall, solicitor in our Technology & Media team, comments: “How thoroughly a 90 day patent will be examined compared to a non-‘superfast’ application will become clear in due course. A patent applied for using the ‘superfast’ application process may create an environment encouraging rivals to challenge the patent if a perception of less thorough examinations is created. Whether this is a risk, remains to be seen, and we’ll keep updating you as the situation develops.”
Another point to note is that using the ‘superfast’ process removes some of the benefits in the traditional, longer route to patent applications, a longer process allows time for inventors to refine their inventions and to continue developing products and filing improvements as they go.
The consultation concludes on 12 June 2013 and we will keep you posted on the outcome.