The Commerce Department's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) today announced that they are now accepting applications for participation in a pilot Patent Prosecution Highway project established between the two offices. The Patent Prosecution Highway will leverage fast-track patent examination 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.
"Patent offices worldwide must increase the depth and effectiveness of their cooperation. Our collective goal is to reduce duplication of work, speed up processing, and improve quality," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Jon Dudas. "This pilot project with the UK IPO builds on our work with the Japan Patent Office, and contributes to a more rational international patent system."
"The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office builds on a similar pilot scheme with the Japan Patent Office which is already showing great promise," said Chief Executive of the UK Intellectual Property Office Ian Fletcher. "The UK Intellectual Property Office has high standards in efficiency and quality as reflected in our ISO 9001:2000 accreditation, and the PPH agreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will make a contribution to raising these standards further. I am especially pleased that the improved efficiency and quality expected to arise from this PPH agreement is a direct result of the strong relations that exist between the UK Intellectual Property Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The PPH helps both offices in their goal of stimulating and rewarding invention and innovation and is a further step towards a global patent prosecution highway network," Fletcher continued.
Under the Patent Prosecution Highway, an applicant receiving a ruling from either the UK IPO 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 at the USPTO can be found at www.uspto.gov/web/patents/pph/pph_ukipo.html.
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 the USPTO and the UK IPO. The trial period is set to expire September 4, 2008, 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.