Expedited examination and non-expedited (normal) examination: Who can file request for examination?
With effect from May 16, 2016 (effective date for Patent (amendment) rules, 2016), the provision of the expedited examination was introduced in the Patent system of India. This article does not intend to discuss the different timelines within which request for examination has to be filed in different situations, rather the article is restricted to the eligibility of a person who can file such requests. Specifically, the article intends to highlight the difference between a person who is eligible for a non-expedited examination and an expedited examination.
Section 11B (1) of the Patent Act, 1970 provides that no application for a patent shall be examined unless the applicant or any other interested person makes a request in the prescribed manner for such examination within the prescribed period.
According to section 2 (t), an interested person is defined as including a person engaged in, or in promoting, research in the same field as that to which the invention relates.
Rule 24 (B) and rule 24 (C) provide procedures for the non-expedited (normal) examination and expedited examination respectively.
Rule 24 (B) (3) provides that the applicant as well any interested person can request for non-expedited examination, however in the latter case, the only intimation is given to such an interested person, and the examination report is shared with the applicant only.
Rule 24 (C)(1) deals with the eligibility of a person who can request for non-expedited examination.
Rule 24 (C)(1):
An applicant may file a request for expedited examination in Form 18A along with the fee as specified in the first schedule only by electronic transmission duly authenticated within the period prescribed in rule 24B on any of the following grounds, namely:-
(a) that India has been indicated as the competent International Searching Authority or elected as an
International Preliminary Examining Authority in the corresponding international application; or
(b) that the applicant is a startup.
Rule 24 (C)(2) provides for the conversion of non-expedited examination to expedited examination.
Rule 24 (C)(2):
A request for examination filed under rule 24B may be converted to a request for expedited examination under sub-rule (1) of rule 24C by paying the relevant fees and submitting requisite documents as required under sub-rule (1). (Emphasis added).
As seen in section 11 (B)(1), there is no categorical difference provided in the eligibility to request for expedited and non-expedited examination (that interested person cannot request for expedited examination). But there is no parallel sub-rule as like 24 (B)(3) in rule 24 (C) and also rule 24 (C)(1) also puts restrictions on the applicant.
However, what if an interested person submits documents available in the public domain to convert a non-expedited examination to expedited examination (by paying the required fees)? Though it is not categorically given that it cannot be done, the language of 24 (C)(1) which restricts eligibility to the applicant and the absence of parallel provision as like 24 (B)(3) in rule 24 (C)indicates that interested person cannot convert non-expedited examination to expedited examination even after paying fees and submitting documents available in the public domain that a particular applicant is eligible for expedited examination.
However, it would be interesting to see if the Indian Patent Office (IPO) faces such a question and how it tackles the same.
About the Author: Swapnil Patil, Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.