In recent years the European Patent Office (EPO) has launched a number of initiatives to increase efficiency and timeliness.

Since the introduction of these Early Certainty schemes, the EPO has received mixed feedback with some users expressing concerns regarding possible adverse effects of accelerated examination.

To address this and to give applicants additional time to assess their case requirements, the EPO launched a consultation on a potential new procedural option to postpone the start of substantive examination. The EPO’s proposal, known as ‘User Driven Early Certainty (UDEC)’, was originally set to enter into force on 1 July 2018 with a full review of the programme to take place within three years after entry into operation.

According to a report in the April 2018 edition of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) Journal, this scheme is now on hold and to be revised following a consultation event at the EPO in Rijswijk on 9 February 2018. While we wait for an updated version to surface, outlined below is a summary of the initial proposal.