The EPO’s annual report includes the average time of EPO examination proceedings. For the most recent report, 2021, this figure was 23.0 months. However, this average is somewhat misleading, as it does not include the formalities and search phases. Moreover, for cases that entered the EP regional phase with a positive International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP) from the EPO, grant could be immediate, resulting in an examination time of essentially 0 months. For cases requiring substantive arguments and/or amendments, a more realistic timeline is around 4 years from filing to grant.
There is a need to balance prosecution timescales and the quality of examination. The EPO is keen to maintain its reputation as a provider of high-quality examination. Because of this reputation, many applicants are keen to obtain rapid grant at the EPO as a granted EP patent can be helpful to accelerate prosecution elsewhere.
There are some actions that can be taken on filing or on entering the EP regional phase to accelerate prosecution, such as waiving the right to certain communications. A positive IPRP from the EPO will certainly help too. However, the options once EP prosecution has begun are more limited, as discussed below. Read more