The Commerce Department's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV) announced today that they have begun a pilot project to test the feasibility of the PRV performing search and examination services for the USPTO on international applications filed with the USPTO under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
The pilot is part of ongoing USPTO efforts to bring down the growing backlog of U.S. national patent applications waiting to be examined.
Each year, the USPTO receives over 50,000 PCT international applications in addition to over 400,000 national applications. The USPTO is testing whether, by having international applications processed elsewhere, it can dedicate more resources to examining the approximately 750,000 national applications currently in the pipeline, with the goal of increasing productivity and enhancing quality.
Under the terms of the pilot project, the PRV will process 50 PCT Chapter I applications covering a range of technologies. The USPTO will review the PRV's work to ensure that it meets USPTO standards for quality and accuracy.
"We look forward to working with our Swedish colleagues to achieve our mutual goals of expediting review of patent applications while maintaining high quality examination" said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Jon Dudas. "Taking advantage of work completed by another office allows the USPTO to focus more of its resources on decreasing the time it now takes between the filing of an application and a final examiner decision."
"The PRV is a competent PCT Authority since the start of the PCT system in 1978 and we have a long experience of patent search and examination" said Lars Bjorklund, acting Director General of the PRV. "We look forward to cooperating with the USPTO and thereby also taking responsibility to support and maintain the functionality of the PCT system."
The PCT is an international agreement that simplifies the filing of patent applications in its 135 member states. A PCT application may be used as a national application for a patent in any of the designated PCT countries. International applicants request PCT search and examination reports to help them determine if an application meets basic patent criteria before committing to the high cost of translating and filing an application in one or more PCT countries. The USPTO and the PRV are among the national patent offices authorized to conduct PCT searches and examinations.