On June 15 2015 Taiwan and South Korea signed memoranda of understanding on the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) and the Patent Priority Electronic File Exchange. The PPH facilitates the electronic exchange of industrial information and priority documents between the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) and the South Korea Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). Under the PPH, patent applicants will be able to speed up their patent applications in South Korea and Taiwan. The programme took effect on July 1 2015.

The PPH provides a fast-track examination process for applications filed in participating IP offices. Since 2011, TIPO has initiated PPH programmes with the United States, Japan and Spain. South Korea is the fourth country to have a PPH programme with Taiwan. In 2014, 797 patent applications were filed as part of the PPH programmes and the average examination period is 11 months – one-third of the non-PPH examination period of around 33 months. Thus, PPH programmes have significantly accelerated the IP rights process.

Taiwan and South Korea are each other's sixth-largest trading partners, with bilateral trading of $30 billion in 2014. In addition, South Korean companies file a significant number of patent applications in Taiwan. In 2014, 2,127 patent rights reviews were filled by South Korean companies, including LG Chem Ltd, Samsung Display Co and Samsung Electronics. In South Korea, patent rights reviews filed by Taiwanese companies – particularly in the semiconductor and chemical engineering industries – increased from 768 in 2013 to 955 in 2014. The Taiwanese government has stated that the petrochemical, electronic and semiconductor industries (eg, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, Winbond Electronics Corp and MediaTek Inc) will benefit from the PPH programme.

Under the PPH programme, once a patent applicant has been notified that KIPO has allowed at least one of its claims, the applicant can request fast-track examination of the corresponding application pending before TIPO and vice versa. Patent applicants can receive final decisions more quickly and efficiently. The Patent Priority Electronic File Exchange memorandum, which facilitates the  electronic transmission of priority documents between Taiwan and South Korea, will simplify the cross-country procedure and save applicants time and money.

TIPO and KIPO have carried out the internal exchange of information for patents and trademarks since 2003. The PPH agreement will not only allow the public to use the exchanged information, but also provide an open data source for third parties. In the long term, industries will be able to share patent information and generate more inventions. TIPO has been committed to international collaboration for years and the PPH is an important milestone for both Taiwan and Korea. As TIPO continues to establish PPH agreements with other patent offices, this international cooperation will accelerate patent prosecutions and enhance examination quality.

Yulan Kuo

Ryan Wang

This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com.