The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is an initiative which provides applicants with a means of significantly accelerating examination of a patent application if examination work has already been conducted at another intellectual property office. Under the current PPH arrangements, generally speaking, a positive examination result on a first patent application pending in a first participating Patent Office can be submitted to a second participating Patent Office to accelerate prosecution of a second pending patent application. Insofar as it can, the second Patent Office will seek to use the positive examination result of the first Patent Office to grant a patent on the second patent application more quickly than if it had independently examined the second application. A number of such PPH arrangements are currently in place between two, or sometime three Patent Offices, for example between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO).
Under a new initiative to simplify the existing system of bi- and trilateral agreements, the PPH is going global. Starting on 6 January 2014, 13 intellectual property offices will pilot a Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) allowing applicants to request accelerated examination at any of the offices involved in the pilot if their claims have been found to be acceptable by any of the other offices involved in the pilot. The GPPH provides fast-track patent examination procedures in multiple jurisdictions to allow applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and cheaper.
The 13 offices involved in the GPPH pilot are the IPO, USPTO, IP Australia, Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO), National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland (NBPR), JPO, Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), Nordic Patent Institute (NPI), Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO), Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property (ROSPATENT) and Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO).
Notably, the EPO and the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) do not form part of the GPPH agreement. However, in the wake of the UK Government trade delegation’s visit to China, the IPO has announced a bilateral agreement between SIPO and the IPO to establish a PPH between the two offices allowing UK businesses to obtain faster intellectual property protection in China. Applicants can request a quicker processing of a patent application at one intellectual property office if the corresponding patent application has been found to be acceptable at the other participating office. The second patent office can then use the work undertaken by the first office, thereby reducing duplication.