A company who wants to safeguard its intellectual property rights in other countries must take additional steps to ensure international protection. To help streamline the process, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has entered into partnerships with countries across the world.
Most recently, representatives of the USPTO and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) signed a Joint Statement of Intent last week to launch two new Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programs on December 1, 2011.
According to the USPTO, these landmark patent worksharing initiatives represent a major achievement in the growing bilateral cooperation between the two patent offices.
These pilot programs will apply to qualifying patent applications filed under both the Paris Convention (“Paris Route”) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
“This PPH agreement marks a shining success of the outstanding cooperation by both offices to build on synergies to improve the global patent system,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property David Kappos. “The agreement comes at a very opportune time as China and the United States together make up a significant global market share for patent stakeholders. PPH will promote high quality patents and expedite processing of patent applications in both offices by avoiding duplicative work and will provide greater costs savings to patent applicants. It will help spur greater innovation and generate greater economic growth and job creation in both countries.”
What Are Patent Pilot Programs?
PPH programs permit each office to benefit from work previously done by the other office, which reduces the examination workload and improves patent quality. The expedited examination in each office allows applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently in each country.
Under the Paris Route PPH pilot program, an Office of Second Filing (OSF) may utilize the search and examination results of a national application filed in the Office of First Filing (OFF) in a corresponding application filed under the Paris Convention in the OSF. The PCT-PPH pilot program will use positive international written opinions and international preliminary examination reports developed within the framework of the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
The one-year pilot programs will end on November 30, 2012. Both offices may extend the one-year trial period upon mutual agreement. The purpose of this trial program is to gauge the interest of applicants and to evaluate the programs for patent quality, efficiency and the reduction of the workload at the USPTO as well as SIPO.