Canadian - European Patent Office Patent Prosecution Highway is Now Live
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) have started their Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot program. The PPH can expedite examination of certain Canadian patent applications after claims have been found allowable in a corresponding European application. The CIPO PPH request can also be based on a Patent Cooperation Treaty patent application filed in Europe (PCT-EPO). CIPO does not charge an additional fee for a PPH request. In Canada, CIPO often issues its first examination report within three months after the PPH request is approved. This is much faster than the usual pace of examination, where the first examination report is not usually received with a year after requesting examination. CIPO is currently accepting PPH requests based on a corresponding EPO application only for Canadian applications filed in January 2015 or later.
The program can also expedite a European application after allowance of the corresponding Canadian application. The EPO side of this PPH is open to any EP application, regardless of its filing date. However, this direction of the highway is less useful, since any applicant can already easily request expedited review in the EPO (no government fee or reasons required).
The patent office where the PPH expedited review request is filed tries to make the prosecution of that patent application more efficient by reviewing search and examination reports already completed by the other patent office. Reviewing the other patent office’s prior work analyzing patentability helps provide a head start. To create further efficiency, the PPH request must also align the pending patent claims with the allowable claims from the other jurisdiction. Therefore, PPH only makes sense where applicants want the same scope of patent coverage in both patents. PPH is not a ‘rubber stamp’ process, since each patent office does its own review and assessment of patentability.
Canada has PPH programs in place with many individual countries, as well as a Global PPH program. Please contact us for more information about Canadian PPH and other ways to accelerate patent examination in Canada.