Improving examination communications


Marianne Holme and Nils Tarras-Wahlberg

There is a will on the side of the European Patent Office to make patent prosecution more effective and faster.

Raising the bar of patent quality was a theme some years ago, when the EPO encouraged representatives to draft patent applications according to European Patent Convention (EPC) standards.

The aim was fewer examination communications, to the expected benefit of both EPO, in view of reduced workload of the examiners, and the applicant because of lower patent prosecution costs.

The Guidelines for Examination in the EPO instruct examiners to use the ‘problem-and-solution’ approach to determine inventive step. The ‘problem-and-solution’ approach tells that to deprive an invention of inventive step, there has to be something (an ‘incentive’) in the closest prior art that would prompt a given skilled person to combine the cited documents.

EPO, patent prosecution, examination, EPC, PCT