Washington, D.C. - The Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that they intend to launch a new trial cooperation initiative called the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) in September. The Patent Prosecution Highway will leverage fast-track patent examination procedures already available in both offices to allow applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently. It also will permit each office to exploit the work previously done by the other office and reduce duplication. In turn, the initiative will reduce examination workload and improve patent quality.
"This pilot is a major step forward in the USPTO-EPO cooperative efforts to manage workloads and will allow us to take advantage of each other's work thereby reducing our backlogs while still maintaining higher patent quality," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Jon Dudas. "The pilot also significantly expands the PPH network in the global patent office community."
"Being prepared to 'utilise' work is both rational and essential if the patent system is to keep its head above water" said President of the EPO Alison Brimelow. "Exploring the implications of projects like PPH is very important."
Under the Patent Prosecution Highway, an applicant whose application filed with either the EPO or the USPTO contains at least one allowable claim may request that the other office fast track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications. Full requirements for participation in the trial program will be available prior to implementation at www.uspto.gov/web/patents/pph/pph_epo.html and www.epo.org.
The purpose of the trial program is to gauge the interest of applicants and determine if the program improves quality and efficiency and reduces the workload at each office. The trial period will be set for one year but may be extended or terminated earlier depending on volume of activity and other factors. Both offices will provide notice of any adjustment in the trial period.