User consultation on increased flexibility in the timing of the examination process – introduction of a postponed examination system

The Office hereby invites stakeholders to take part in an online consultation on the possibility of allowing more flexibility in the timing of the examination process by offering means to postpone the examination of European patent applications.

Since the launch of the Early Certainty initiative in 2014, the Office has significantly reduced the length of the patent grant procedure. Applicants and the public at large have generally welcomed the faster processing of applications, as it provides information on the scope of patent protection at an earlier stage.

At the same time it has also been argued that in some instances applicants might need more time before the grant of a patent. In view of this, in autumn 2017 the Office presented a proposal for User-Driven Early Certainty, allowing applicants to postpone the start of substantive examination by a maximum of three years.

The EPO is committed to supporting innovation across all technical fields and to taking the interests of all stakeholders of the European patent system into account. In line with the established practice of engaging with users to enhance the quality and effectiveness of the EPO’s processes and services, user feedback plays a key role in the EPO’s activities.

The primary objective of this consultation is to receive the views of all stakeholders on the introduction of a postponed examination scheme in the European patent grant procedure, the advantages and drawbacks this could have for users and the public in general, and its potential economic and business impact.

The Office is further interested in collecting input on the different conceivable options and features for implementing such a procedural mechanism. These options and features are not to be understood as exhaustive, and participants are expressly invited to propose further measures.

To facilitate the processing of responses, you will be requested to comment on each option. You will be asked first to indicate your degree of support for the measure/statement in general and answer a number of detailed questions, and then to give the reasons for your answers in the box provided.

This online consultation will remain open until 11 January 2019.

1. Complete  >  2. Preview  >  3. Submit


Click the "Preview" button at the bottom of the page when you are ready to proceed to step 2.


I. Need for more flexibility in the timing of examination

II. Possible features of a postponed examination system

III. Third-party activation mechanism

IV. Office activation mechanism in a postponed examination scheme

V. Other suggestions