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Wednesday Nov 30, 2011

Our Growing Partnership with China

Guest blog by Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea

I find it hard to believe that I have been at the USPTO for almost ten months. When I started here at the USPTO, I knew I would be a part of a great organization – one that I worked with as a practitioner for many years. But I had no idea I would be a part of history as we implement the most significant patent reform legislation in history. What amazes me more, however, is that the America Invents Act is just one of many efforts we work on for our stakeholders.

Tomorrow (December 1, 2011), the USPTO and SIPO (State Intellectual Property Office - China) will begin a landmark worksharing initiative. The two new Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programs will apply to qualifying applications filed under the Paris Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

I had the honor of representing the USPTO at a ceremony in Beijing on November 8, where I signed the Joint Statement of Intent with SIPO Deputy Commissioner Yang Tiejun to launch these PPH worksharing initiatives. This trip marked my second time visiting China as the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO. You can read about my first trip here.

This PPH agreement is a milestone in bilateral cooperation between the USPTO and SIPO. PPH programs, such as this one, permit each office to benefit from work previously done by the other office, reducing the examination workload in each office, aiding patent examiners and improving patent quality. The one-year pilot program will end on November 30, 2012. The trial program will gauge the interest of applicants and evaluate the programs for patent quality, efficiency and the reduction of the workload at the USPTO and SIPO. Both offices may extend the one year trial period upon mutual agreement. We believe the PPH Program has been overwhelmingly successful and it’s my pleasure to contribute to the program’s success by joining my counterpart in China and signing such an important document.

During this past trip I also spoke at the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) Intellectual Property (IP) Working Group Vice Minister level meeting. The USPTO, along with the Office of the United States Trade Representative, is co-chair of the JCCT IP Working Group, the main bilateral mechanism by which IP experts from the US and China seek to resolve IP concerns to US businesses. This meeting was a prelude to the recent 22nd Session of JCCT plenary meeting in Chengdu, China that newly appointed US Secretary of Commerce John Bryson attended.

One thing I’ve discovered in my time at the USPTO is that when I travel to a place like China, there is never a shortage of people who want to hear about what we do. So while in China, I also spoke about the America Invents Act at two Chinese universities, Renmin University and Nanjing University of Science and Technology. I also met with IP officials from various provincial level IP agencies of Jiangsu province, one of the most prosperous provinces of China. During our meetings, we discussed how we can collaborate to improve the IP protection and enforcement environment in Jiangsu province for the benefit of US and Chinese rights holders.

Our China team, a group of attorneys with specific expertise on China IP matters in the USPTO’s Office of Policy and External Affairs, will be busy following up on the USPTO-SIPO PPH pilot. I look forward to working with members of this Office and our business community in the coming months as we continue to develop this and other initiatives.

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