The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) have been considering a search sharing proposal, entitled "Triway" that would leverage the searching expertise of each of the Trilateral Offices (EPO, JPO, and USPTO) to the benefits of both applicants and the Offices.
The basic concept behind the Triway proposal is to promote worksharing by eliminating certain timing issues, while at the same time providing applicants and the Offices with the benefit of search results of the Trilateral Offices being available within a certain short time period in order to give applicants and Trilateral Offices an opportunity to share and consider all of the Trilateral search results. This would help improve the resulting quality of any patents issued on the corresponding applications by each of the Trilateral Offices. The Triway proposal would complement other worksharing efforts such as the Patent Prosecution Highway Program.
Under the Triway proposal, each Office would conduct searches on corresponding applications filed under the Paris Convention in each of the Offices in a sufficiently early time period. The search results from each of the Offices would then be shared among the Offices in order to reduce the search and examination workload in each of the Offices.
The Trilateral Offices agreed at the November 2007 Trilateral Pre-conference to undertake a limited pilot program. The start date for the limited pilot program will be July 28, 2008. A notice regarding the requirements/procedures for participating in the Triway pilot program will be posted on the USPTO Web site on or about July 14, 2008.
Information regarding the Triway pilot program is also available from the EPO Web site at http://archive.epo.org/epo/pubs/oj008/08_09_08/08_4428.pdf.
Information regarding the Triway pilot program is also available from the JPO Web site at http://www.jpo.go.jp/torikumi_e/t_torikumi_e/triway_e.htm (English).
Forms and Related Materials
- Form SB/12, Request for Participation in the Triway Pilot Program Among the USPTO, the EPO and the JPO [PDF]
- Triway Pilot Program among the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office, and the Japan Patent Office (signed 14 July 2008) [PDF]