2010年5月28日に、UKIPOは、PCT出願の英国国内段階移行出願に対して優先審査を行うという”Fast Track scheme for UK national phase applications derived from international patent applications”を導入しました。
positive Written Opinion (WO-ISA) 又は International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP) on all claimsを受領した場合に限って優先審査を受けることができました。
このたび、優先審査適用の条件が緩和されました。これによれば、2012年6月8日以降、IPRP 又は WO-ISA がfully positive でなくとも、PCT出願の英国国内段階移行出願が優先審査を受けることができるようになりました。*
英国国内段階のクレーム発明が、WO-ISA 又は IPRPにおいて許可可能な状態にあると認定された少なくとも一つのクレーム発明と十分に対応している（sufficiently correspond）場合（上記少なくとも一つのクレーム発明よりも狭い場合も含む。）に優先審査が適用可能となりました。
- A request for processing under the PCT(UK) Fast Track must be received before UK examination has commenced.
- In order to qualify for the service, all claims present in the application at the time of the request must sufficiently correspond to one or more claims that have been examined and found to meet the requirements for novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability in the international phase.
- Claims are considered to “sufficiently correspond” where, accounting for differences due to translations and claim format, the claims on file in the UK national phase are:
(i) of the same or similar scope as the claims found acceptable in the IPRP or WO-ISA, or
(ii) narrower in scope than the claims found acceptable in the IPRP or WO-ISA.
- With regard to (ii), a claim that is narrower in scope occurs when a claim found to be acceptable in the IPRP or WO-ISA is amended to be further limited by an additional feature that is supported in the specification (description and/or claims).
- A claim in the UK national phase which is in a new or different category from those claims indicated as acceptable in the IPRP or WO-ISA is not considered to “sufficiently correspond”. For example, where the acceptable claims relate to a process of manufacturing a product, then the claims in the UK national phase are not considered to sufficiently correspond if they introduce product claims that are dependent on the corresponding process claims.
- If the IPRP or WO-ISA states in Box III that certain claims have not been examined, then acceleration is only available under this service if those claims have been deleted from the application. Similarly, if objections to novelty, inventive step or industrial applicability have been raised against any of the claims in Box V of the IPRP or WO-ISA, then acceleration is only available under this service if those claims have been deleted from the application or amended such that they sufficiently correspond to allowable claims.
- The applicant must make a request for accelerated examination in writing, indicating that the claims currently on file sufficiently correspond to one or more claims that were indicated as acceptable in the international phase in the IPRP or WO-ISA. The Office will require no further reasons for accelerated examination to take place.
- It is helpful if any correspondence in relation to accelerated applications is clearly marked as such, for example by boldly indicating “URGENT - ACCELERATED PROCESSING REQUESTED”. This will help us to identify correspondence relating to accelerated applications as early as possible after the Office has received the correspondence and thus ensure that the examiner receives this correspondence as quickly as possible.
- In the unlikely circumstance that WIPO is delayed in supplying a copy of the IPRP, we may ask the applicant to provide a copy of this document in order to expedite the process.
- Each request for accelerated examination will be considered by a patent examiner, who will confirm whether the request for accelerated examination has been allowed or refused. If it is not clear how the claims correspond to those indicated as acceptable in the IPRP or WO-ISA, the examiner may contact the applicant to request further clarification.
- In the event of the request being refused, reasons for refusal will be provided. If the request is allowed, accelerated examination will take place. Our current target is to issue a substantive examination report within 2 months of receipt of the request for accelerated examination, on at least 90% of cases.
- The usual opportunity for voluntary amendment under rule 31(4) will be available after issue of the first examination report.
*1 LINK: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/p-pn-fasttrack1