Isla Furlong, patent attorney at Venner Shipley has been doing some blogging on the CambridgeIP site. I wanted to comment on her piece on the Patent Prosecution Highway which the EPO call the Utilisation Pilot Project.
The whole idea is premised on the assumption that at least some patent applicants don't like the protracted grant procedure. Certainly first-time applicants are usually appalled at the timescales, but they rapidly come to see that delay can have many advantages, not least on the funding requirement.
So much so that I suspect that these highways have little traffic. I took a ride on the EPO/highway recently and was very impressed by the thoroughness of the new search I received. This was a case already accepted in the UK but the EPO were not simply going to use the UK work product. In discussions with some other attorneys, there was some concern that they would lose out on the further search.
When I receive a search opinion. I find it hard to resist diving in to see whether the examiner has a good position or not. I am blessed with clients of similar enthusiasm, which is a bit of a problem in this highway as you can't talk back without stopping to pay at the examination fee toll booth.
I would like to see the Patent Offices offering some incentives to applicants that want to co-operate with them and allowing the examination to continue while the subject is fresh in the mind of both applicant, agent and examiner seems like an efficient thing to do.
I wonder whether patent applicants in general do want speed. Hope is often more attractive and more marketable.
Those impeded by alleged patent risks may, on the other hand, very much prefer their competitor's more ambitious hopes to be dashed quickly so it would be good to have the option of putting them on the highway.