Acceptance deadlines provide that a patent application will be deemed to have been rejected, if it has not been accepted for grant by a particular date (often 12 months after the issuance of the first substantive examination report). The UK Patents Act does not explicitly mention acceptance deadlines; however, the Compliance Period detailed in section 20(1) and Rule 30 serves the same purpose:
If the patent application has not been accepted by this date, the application will be refused.
The compliance period expires 54 months after the earliest priority date of the application, or 12 months after the issuance of the First Examination Report, whichever date is later.
The UK IPO currently aims to prioritise examination of applications approaching the end of their compliance period, allowing for a faster exchange of reports/replies between the applicant and examiner.
The compliance period can be extended by two months upon request and payment of a fee. Further extensions may be granted at the discretion of the Examiner.
Divisional Applications are subject to the same compliance period as the parent application, meaning that no extra time can be gained by filing a divisional application. Divisional Applications should therefore be filed sooner rather than later; however, no later than 3 months before the expiry of the compliance period of the parent application.