Washington - The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Japan Patent Office signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on May 21, 2015, to begin a bilateral Collaboration Search Pilot (CSP) program. The MOC, signed at a bilateral meeting during the IP5 Heads Meeting in Suzhou, China, allows the two offices to share search information prior to a first office action.
IP5 is the designation for the group of the five largest intellectual property offices in the world. In addition to the USPTO and JPO, other members include the European Patent Office (EPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO).
“This memorandum highlights how important the cooperative relationship between the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Japan Patent Office is,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee. “This Collaborative Search Pilot Program will enable us to provide applicants with the best and most relevant prior art possible.”
The CSP is designed to provide patent applicants with the best prior art by combining the search expertise of both the USPTO and JPO before examination of the patent application begins. This will enhance compact prosecution and improve patent quality.
CSP processing in the USPTO will be based upon the Full First Action Interview (FAI) Pilot program (see www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/faipp_full.jsp) that separates the initial search from substantive examination. The FAI program is designed to give applicants the examiner’s search results, followed by an optional interview, prior to full examination of the claims.
“The signing of the CSP further strengthens the strategic alliance between the JPO and the USPTO," said Deputy Under Secretary Of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Russell Slifer. “By sharing search information, Japanese and U.S. applicants will be able to acquire high-quality patents more easily in both countries.”
Under the CSP, USPTO and JPO examiners will exchange search information to provide the best prior art to the applicant. The USPTO will combine the search results into a FAI search report. This will allow the applicant the opportunity to receive the best prior art from both offices and determine the next best steps in the patent application prosecution.
In order to ensure the coordination of the search efforts, the application will be accelerated in both offices, allowing for faster prosecution.
The USPTO and JPO will formally implement the CSP on Aug. 1. Program details will be published in an upcoming Federal Register notice and on the USPTO website.