Highway (also referred to as the “PPH”)
embodies numerous bilateral agreements
between dozens of countries providing that an
indication of allowable subject matter in one
country may trigger accelerated examination
in another country. The PPH has undergone
several iterations in an effort to homogenize
aspects of the agreements. Nonetheless, interjurisdictional variations in legal and procedural
requirements remain a sticking point for many
practitioners who view the PPH as unnecessarily
onerous and convoluted.
A recent iteration implemented January 6,
2014, came in the form of two programs — the
so-called Global Patent Prosecution Highway
(Global PPH) that promises to standardize the
agreements between 17 offices in 16 countries,
as well as the IP5 that standardizes agreements
between the United States, the European Patent
Office (EPO), Japan, China and Korea.
A PPh PrImer
The PPH provides accelerated examination of
corresponding patent applications by sharing
information between multiple patent offices.
Once an applicant receives a ruling from
an Office of First Filing (OFF) that at least
one claim of an application is patentable,
the applicant may request that an Office of
Second Filing (OSF) fast track the examination
of corresponding claims in a corresponding
application filed in the OSF. Examination in
the second office may be fast tracked to speed
up the examination process and thereby lower
costs of the second application. Examination
will typically begin within two to three months
from the PPH petition being granted (as long
as the preliminaries are completed), which
provides a greater efficiency for examination.
An applicant is eligible to request expedited
review through the PPH once allowable claims
have been identified by the OFF. The claims of
the application filed in the OSF must correspond
to the allowable claims in the OFF application.
Once an allowance has been received, the
applicant may file a request for PPH in the OSF.
If the applicant is filing an application with the
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) as the
OSF, then a petition to make special may be filed
with the application. The petition should be filed
before substantive examination at the OSF begins,
however the request may be filed when the
applicant chooses. Once the petition is accepted,
the applications examination may be accelerated.
The examiner at the OSF will examine the
application in view of the local patent laws, but
may utilize the OFF’s work product, including
notice of allowance and/or search reports.
In a variation, the PCT-PPH program utilizes
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) work product
as the basis for accelerated examination. For
instance, depending upon the International
Searching Authority being used, accelerated
examination may be requested utilizing
a Written Opinion established and/or an
International Preliminary Examination Report.
Revised PPH requirements were published
on July 15, 2011, as part of the so-called
MOTTAINAI pilot program. Designed to