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GUILIN - The Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced today the expansion of their existing bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) agreement to include international search reports with written opinions, and international preliminary examination reports developed within the framework of the international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The announcement was made at a meeting of the heads of the five major intellectual property offices (the IP-5) taking place this week in Guilin.
Patent Prosecution Highway agreements streamline the patent system and promote expeditious and high-quality patent examination among participating offices by allowing patent examiners to avail themselves of work product from other patent offices. Under the basic PPH framework, an applicant receiving an allowable determination on a claim or claims from one patent office may request that a corresponding application pending before another patent office receive faster examination. By coordinating certain search results between patent offices, applicants can generally obtain patents in multiple jurisdictions more quickly.
Until now, the PPH program between the USPTO and the KIPO entered into on January 29, 2009, was limited to search and examination results under the Paris Convention. The inclusion in the USPTO-KIPO bilateral PPH of PCT international phase work generated by either the USPTO or the KIPO will greatly expand the usefulness of the PPH program to applicants and the offices. This initiative follows on a similar PPH expansion among the Trilateral Offices (the USPTO, the European Patent Office and the Japan Patent Office) that went into effect on January 29, 2010. More information on that program can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/pph/. In addition, under the terms of a separate agreement, the KIPO has, since 2006, served as an International Searching and International Preliminary Examining Authority under the PCT for international applications filed with the USPTO PCT Receiving Office.
"Expanding the scope of our PPH cooperation with the KIPO will significantly benefit applicants in both countries," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. "The KIPO is elected to serve as a PCT International Authority by US PCT applicants in about 30 percent of cases. Expanding the scope of our bilateral PPH agreement to include PCT 'international phase' work will significantly increase the benefits of the PPH and the PCT to both patent offices and their users."
Details of this program will be posted at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/pph/pph_kipo.jsp.
Note that this pilot has not yet started. A starting date and further details will be forthcoming.