Should patent offices issue patents within 18 months from their original date of filing?
The European Patent Office (EPO) recently declined to grant a patent, even though examination had identified no grounds of objection, because it was too soon to be confident that the patent would be valid. The applicant appealed, claiming that there is no basis in the European Patent Convention (EPC) for the Office to delay the grant of a patent which is otherwise in-order. The Board of Appeal upheld the decision, finding that the EPO is under no obligation to grant a patent until it is satisfied that a complete examination has been conducted.
I am unaware of any other patent office having a policy of not granting patents within 18 months of the original filing (i.e priority) date. The Australian Patent Office will do so, and quite regularly examines and certifies innovation patents within this period. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will also do so, as I can attest from recent experience.
There is, however, a real question as to whether other patent offices should be following the EPO’s lead.
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