Section 15

Date of filing application

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15.-(1) Subject to the following provisions of this Act, the date of filing an application for a patent shall be taken to be the earliest date on which documents filed at the Patent Office to initiate the application satisfy the following conditions -

  • (a) the documents indicate that a patent is sought;
  • (b) the documents identify the person applying for a patent or contain information sufficient to enable that person to be contacted by the Patent Office; and
  • (c) the documents contain either -
    • (i) something which is or appears to be a description of the invention for which a patent is sought [Rule 12(8)&(9): translation required within 2 months of inititation if not in English or Welsh]; or
    • (ii) a reference, complying with the relevant requirements of rules [Rule 17], to an earlier relevant application made by the applicant or a predecessor in title of his.

[Rule 2: "initiation date" on filing documents under s15(1)]

(2) It is immaterial for the purposes of subsection (1)(c)(i) above -

  • (a) whether the thing is in, or is accompanied by a translation into, a language accepted by the Patent Office in accordance with rules;
  • (b) whether the thing otherwise complies with the other provisions of this Act and with any relevant rules.


(3) Where documents filed at the Patent Office to initiate an application for a patent satisfy one or more of the conditions specified in subsection (1) above, but do not satisfy all those conditions, the comptroller shall as soon as practicable after the filing of those documents notify the applicant of what else must be filed in order for the application to have a date of filing.

(4) Where documents filed at the Patent Office to initiate an application for a patent satisfy all the conditions specified in subsection (1) above, the comptroller shall as soon as practicable after the filing of the last of those documents notify the applicant of -

  • (a) the date of filing the application, and
  • (b) the requirements that must be complied with, and the periods within which they are required by this Act or rules to be complied with, if the application is not to be treated as having been withdrawn.


(5) Subsection (6) below applies where -

  • (a) an application has a date of filing by virtue of subsection (1) above;
  • (b) within the prescribed period [Rule 18: either the period beginning with the filing date of the application and ending with preliminary examination, or two months after the applicant is notified in the preliminary search report] the applicant files at the Patent Office -
    • (i) a drawing, or
    • (ii) part of the description of the invention for which a patent is sought, and
  • (c) that drawing or that part of the description was missing from the application at the date of filing.


(6) Unless the applicant withdraws the drawing or the part of the description filed under subsection (5)(b) above ("the missing part") before the end of the prescribed period -

  • (a) the missing part shall be treated as included in the application; and
  • (b) the date of filing the application shall be the date on which the missing part is filed at the Patent Office.


(7) Subsection (6)(b) above does not apply if -

  • (a) on or before the date which is the date of filing the application by virtue of subsection (1) above a declaration is made under section 5(2) above in or in connection with the application;
  • (b) the applicant makes a request for subsection (6)(b) above not to apply [Rule 18(4)-(7)]; and
  • (c) the request complies with the relevant requirements of rules and is made within the prescribed period.


(8) Subsections (6) and (7) above do not affect the power of the comptroller under section 117(1) below to correct an error or mistake.

(9) Where, after an application for a patent has been filed and before the patent is granted -

  • (a) a new application is filed by the original applicant or his successor in title in accordance with rules [Rule 19] in respect of any part of the matter contained in the earlier application, and
  • (b) the conditions mentioned in subsection (1) above are satisfied in relation to the new application (without the new application contravening section 76 below),

the new application shall be treated as having, as its date of filing, the date of filing the earlier application.
[see further section on divisional applications]

(10) Where an application has a date of filing by virtue of this section, the application shall be treated as having been withdrawn if any of the following applies -

  • (a) the applicant fails to file at the Patent Office, before the end of the prescribed period [Rule 22], one or more claims and the abstract;
  • (b) where a reference to an earlier relevant application has been filed as mentioned in subsection (1)(c)(ii) above -
    • (i) the applicant fails to file at the Patent Office, before the end of the prescribed period [Rule 22], a description of the invention for which the patent is sought;
    • (ii) the applicant fails to file at the Patent Office, before the end of the prescribed period [Rule 22], a copy of the application referred to, complying with the relevant requirements of rules [Rule 17]
  • (c) the applicant fails to pay the application fee before the end of the prescribed period [Rule 22];
  • (d) the applicant fails, before the end of the prescribed period, to make a request for a search under section 17 below and pay the search fee.


(11) In this section "relevant application" has the meaning given by section 5(5) above.

Notes:
Subsection 1(c)(i): the 'something' does not have to be in English to accord a filing date, although Rule 14 requires that all parts must be in English or Welsh; a two month period under Rule 12 will be given during which a translated description (into English or Welsh) must be filed.

Previous version of s15(1) (a) to (c) applies to applications initiated at the UK Patent Office before 1 Jan 2005. Also applies to EP conversions (section 81) and to international applications entering UK phase (section 89A(3)) prior to 1 Jan 2005. New s14(1A) does not apply to such applications.

Missing parts: If notified by the Patent Office that a part (eg. drawing or page of description) is missing, the applicant has 2 months from the date of notification to:

  • i) file the missing part and have the date of filing redated to when the missing part is filed;
  • ii) not file the missing part and keep the original filing date; or
  • iii) file the missing part and apply under s15(7) for the original filing date to be kept because the missing part can be found in a priority document (already declared under s5(2))
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