As of 28 May 2010, patent applicants can request their UK national phase application of their International Patent Application (PCT) to be fast tracked. To qualify for the fast track route, all claims present in the application on entry to the national phase must have been examined.
Furthermore, the International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP) for the PCT needs to be positive, meaning there are no objections to novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability raised in the IPRP.
This fast track route applies to existing PCT applications which have already entered the UK national phase and any PCT applications entering the national phase from 28 May 2010 onwards.
To request the acceleration, the request is to be made in writing, indicating that the application has received a positive IPRP. No further reasons are required. It is advised that correspondence relating to acceleration application should be marked clearly to help the UK Intellectual Property Office identifying correspondence relating to accelerated applications.
Once the application is received, a patent examiner will consider the request and confirm whether the request should be granted or refused, with reasons given if the latter is decided. If the request is granted, the UK IPO will accelerate the application process and will aim to examine the application within 2 months of receipt of the request for accelerated examination. The usual opportunity for voluntary amendment will be available after issue of the first Examination Report.
In view of the fact that the criteria of fast tracking the UK national phase requires no objections to be made to novelty, inventive step or industrial applicability in the IPRP, we anticipate a limited amount of patent application eligible for this fast track system.