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April 20, 2009

CONTACT: Jennifer Rankin Byrne or Ruth Nyblod
Phone: (571) 272-8400 or jennifer.rankin_byrne@uspto.gov or Ruth.Nyblod@uspto.gov

Press Release, 09-05

USPTO, German Patent Office Partner to Expedite Processing and Improve Patent Quality

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) agreed to partner in establishing a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot program. PPH agreements are cooperative initiatives that streamline the patent system and promote expeditious, inexpensive and high-quality patent protection throughout the world. The U.S.-German PPH is USPTO's ninth such agreement with other nations' patent and trademark offices. The pilot period will begin April 27, 2009, and continue for a period of two years.

"The Patent Prosecution Highway with Germany will eliminate redundant work and expedite processing," Acting Director of the USPTO John J. Doll said. "By working with our colleagues at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, both offices will increase the efficiency of the patent process and will further expand a worldwide network that allows a broader array of inventors to take advantage of these benefits."

"The pilot program will enable both offices to use the respective work and search results. Intensified cooperation of our two offices will enhance efficiency and quality of the patent grant procedure and so be of great advantage to U.S. and German applicants," said Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer, President of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office.

PPH implementation is a significant achievement and is part of USPTO's 21st Century Strategic Plan to transform the agency into a more quality-focused, highly productive organization. The plan is one step toward addressing a growing patent backlog and increased workload.

Under PPH agreements, an applicant receiving a favorable ruling from one nation's patent office on at least one claim in an application may request that the corresponding application filed with the other nation advance out of turn for examination. By coordinating patentable results between both nations' offices, applicants can expect to obtain patents in both nations more quickly.

USPTO requirements for participation in the U.S.-German PPH are available at: www.uspto.gov/web/patents/pph/pph_dpma.html.

DPMA requirements for participation can be found at: www.dpma.de/english/patent/forms/index.html

The USPTO and the DPMA will continue to evaluate the needs of applicants and the progress of the PPH. Discussions on revisions to the requirements and to improve the procedure of the PPH will be ongoing.

The pilot program may be extended if necessary to adequately assess the feasibility of the PPH program. Notification of any revisions will be posted on the web sites of each office.

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