Australian Patent Office proposes shortened time period for examination

IP Australia, the government body responsible for the administration of IP in Australia has released an exposure draft of the proposed Regulations to implement The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act 2012. Most provisions of the Act, including the implementing Regulations will come into effect on the 15 April 2013.

The proposed Regulations, among many changes, include two significant proposals aimed at reducing the time period for examination.

  1. The present period of 21 months from the date of issuance of the First Official Report in which to gain acceptance of an application for patent will be reduced to 12 months. The additional nine months allowed under the present Regulations, with payment of late response fees, will be discontinued. Applicants wishing to gain further time to obtain acceptance will still have the opportunity to refile their application as a divisional patent application. However, this may be less attractive, as any application filed after 15 April 2013 will proceed under the higher patentability standards of the new Act. Applicants may prefer to seek a Hearing before the Patent Office should an impasse be reached with the Examiner during examination of their application.
  2. The present period of six months within which to request examination following receipt of a Direction to Request Examination will be reduced to two months. This change is unlikely to cause any major difficulties for Applicants for patents.

The proposed Regulations also seek to streamline the current Opposition procedures to reduce delays and costs in such proceedings.