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Advancing USPTO's Work Sharing Efforts
Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos
Today the USPTO is hosting a roundtable on international work sharing. This forum will bring together distinguished panelists from interested stakeholder groups to have an open discussion on the issues and implications around work sharing. Work sharing is an important tool for speeding the processing of applications filed in multiple jurisdictions by enabling patent offices to avail themselves of work done by another patent office.
Of course, work sharing does not substitute for decisions on patentability—which are and will continue to be made solely by USPTO examiners as to applications pending in the USPTO. But work sharing is a powerful tool, like other tools, enabling our employees to extract value from the efforts of other similarly skilled examiners in other patent offices, including prior art found in the course of searching, and office actions applying patentability criteria that are in many cases very similar across patent systems.
The amount of repetitious work involved in examining patent filings first filed in other patent offices represents a significant impact on the USPTO’s workload and the workload of other offices, and contributes to our backlog and long pendency periods. Thus, I see work sharing as one of our most important tools to speed patent examination and enhance quality. We’re eager for today’s discussion and look forward to hearing the insights and perspectives of the participants.
Just last week, I attended the Trilateral Conference and Industry Trilateral meetings in Kyoto, Japan, where the USPTO, the EPO, and the JPO entered into a series of bilateral agreements to expand the existing Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) work share program. These new PPH agreements between the Trilateral Offices will enable us to use international search reports, written opinions, and international preliminary examination reports developed within the framework of the international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), in examining patent applications filed at the USPTO.
These new agreements greatly expand the potential of the PPH program. By permitting a Trilateral Office to draw upon the positive examination result from the PCT work product of another Trilateral Office, the PPH will now be available to a larger number of applicants. This will make it possible to obtain patent protection in multiple countries more quickly and easily, and less expensively.
In addition, the Trilateral Offices are developing new information systems and a new generation of information products and services. For example, we are undertaking efforts to move toward use of a more efficient means of processing data through use of an Extensible Markup Language (XML) data format, and to develop tools to encourage XML filing by applicants.
These are some of our work sharing initiatives both at home through the multilateral fora. By further expanding our work sharing efforts the USPTO will be better-positioned to meet the needs of the constantly evolving global intellectual property landscape.
Please stay tuned as we advance in embracing work sharing, and please do send along your comments.