Australian patent examination timelines are technology dependent – 11 December 2015
The Australian patent application process typically entails the issuance of a ‘direction to request examination‘ followed by a request for examination and in turn by a subsequent examination report. As we have previously reported (e.g. here and here), the timing of these events is somewhat unpredictable.
The Patent Office statistics show that this timing is highly dependent on the nature of the technology (here). At the time of writing, the ‘Chemical/ Biotechnology (B2)’ section of the Patent Office was issuing directions on applications having a priority date of 27 February 2012, whereas the ‘Chemical Engineering (B1)’ and ‘Mechanical (C5)’ were 18 months further behind.
Similar differences occur in the timing of examination reports once examination has been requested (see here). Whilst (at the time of writing) the Patent Office as a whole was not far outside the 12 month turnaround time targeted in its customer service charter (at 12.6 months), the ‘B2 Applied Chemistry’ workgroup was turning around reports in 3.6 months in contrast to the 19.5 month turnaround time of the ‘C5 Mechanical’ workgroup.
Another factor that adds to the unpredictability is that one can never be quite sure to which group a patent application will be assigned. Will your mechanical invention be considered by the ‘C5 Mechanical’ group with its 19.5 month turnaround time or ‘B4 Physics-Mechanical’ which is currently turning around reports in about 7 months?
The quoted turnaround times are averages. Even within each workgroup there is significant variation. By way of example, if a voluntary early request for examination is filed on one patent application (e.g. because there is an infringement in the marketplace), it is not uncommon for early directions to issue on any related co-pending patent applications so those applications may be examined in parallel.