The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot program between the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been extended to January 28, 2011. CIPO and the USPTO will then determine whether the PPH program will become permanent. The PPH can expedite examination of certain Canadian patent applications after claims have been found allowable in a corresponding US application (the program can also expedite a US application after allowance of the corresponding Canadian application; for more information on the PPH pilot program, please click here to read more).

The PPH pilot program was also revised to allow more applications to qualify. For example, Canadian patent applications based on Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filings with no priority claim are now eligible for the PPH.

Traffic continues to be heavy at CIPO and light at the USPTO. CIPO received 413 requests for expedited examination under the PPH within the first year (as of January 31 2009). As of February 28 2009, the USPTO received only 8 requests for expedited examination. The substantial contrast in the number of requests is not surprising because US applications are typically examined and granted sooner. Applicants for Canadian patents often choose to delay examination for up to 5 years from the filing date.

The USPTO permanently implemented a PPH program with the Japanese and Korean Patent Offices (JPO and KIPO, respectively) in January 2008 and January 2009, respectively. Since full implementation, the USPTO received 584 requests for expedited examination under the JPO program and 20 requests under the KIPO program (as of February 28 2009). During its pilot program with the KIPO, the USPTO received 133 requests (between January 2008 and January 2009). The USPTO’s pilot program with the UK Intellectual Property Office has been extended until further notice; as of February 28 2009 the USPTO received 52 requests for this program since September 2007. The USPTO’s one-year trial pilot program with Australia is set to expire in April 2009, with no word yet on extension (5 requests were received by the USPTO as of February 28 2009). The USPTO is also involved in one-year trial pilot PPH programs with Europe (as of September 2008), Denmark (as of November 2008) and most recently, Singapore (as of February 2009).