The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that they intend to launch a new trial cooperation initiative called the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) in September.
The PPH will leverage fast-track patent examination procedures already available in both offices to allow applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently. It also will permit each office to exploit the work previously done by the other office and reduce duplication. In turn, the initiative will reduce examination workload and improve patent quality.
Under the PPH, an applicant whose application filed with either the EPO or the USPTO contains at least one allowable claim may request that the other office fast track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications. Full requirements for participation in the trial program will be available prior to implementation on the USPTO website.
The purpose of the trial program is to gauge the interest of applicants and determine if the program improves quality and efficiency and reduces the workload at each office. The trial period will be set for one year but may be extended or terminated earlier depending on volume of activity and other factors. Both offices will provide notice of any adjustment in the trial period.