Washington, D.C. - The Commerce Department's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Intellectual Property Office of Australia (IP Australia) today announced that they will launch a new trial cooperation initiative called the Patent Prosecution Highway in April. The Patent Prosecution Highway will leverage fast-track patent examination procedures already available in both offices to allow applicants in both countries to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently. It also will permit each office to benefit from work previously done by the other office, in turn reducing examination workload and improving patent quality.
"This pilot represents a significant step in work-sharing on a global scale and extends the growing Patent Prosecution Highway network, which will streamline the global patent system," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Jon Dudas. "By leveraging each office's work, this pilot allows each patent office to attain efficiency and higher patent quality."
"IP Australia is pleased to be taking part in the pilot program of the Patent Prosecution Highway with the USPTO," said IP Australia's Director General Philip Noonan. "We strongly support the aim of this initiative with its benefits of increasing quality and efficiency of examination while reducing pendency time. This service is a valuable addition to the patent examination services offered by IP Australia and provides Australian applicants with a process for fast-tracking the examination of their applications in a key market."
This pilot project with IP Australia builds on the success of a pilot with the Japan Patent office, which was made permanent in January. Pendency to first action was substantially reduced in many cases relative to the normal pendency in the particular technology area.
Under the Patent Prosecution Highway, an applicant receiving a ruling from either IP Australia or the USPTO that at least one claim in an application is patentable may request that the other office fast track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications. Full requirements for participation in the trial program can be found at www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/pph/pph_ipau.xml and www.ipaustralia.gov.au/patents/international/pph_uspto.shtml.
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 is set for one year, but may be extended for up to one year or terminated earlier depending on volume of activity and other factors. Both offices will provide notice of any adjustment in the trial period.