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Reviewed 1 October 2010

Patent highway between the UK and Japan to open shortly

Commissioner Nakajima of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and Ron Marchant, Chief Executive of the UK Patent Office (UKPO), formally sign the Patent Prosecution Highway pilot agreement in Tokyo today (26 March 2007).

The main aim of the pilot is to improve the quality of patents and the efficiency of processing applications at both offices. The pilot will begin in July 2007 and will run for a year.

The pilot will allow patent applicants who have received an examination report by either the UK Patent Office or the Japan Patent Office External Link to request accelerated examination of a corresponding patent application filed in the other country. Patent applicants will be required to submit search and examination reports prepared by the other patent office in order qualify for accelerated treatment. This will allow each office to benefit from work previously done by the other office, which in turn will reduce examination workload and improve patent quality.

The aim of the pilot will be to test applicant demand for this additional option for speeding up examination of patent applications, and to quantify the quality and efficiency gains to be expected. Other options for speeding up the examination procedure already exist, but these require the applicant to provide particular and adequate reasons in each individual case. Under the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), the applicant would be guaranteed faster treatment by simply submitting work already carried out by the other patent office.

Malcolm Wicks Minister for Science and Innovation said;

"I am pleased that the UK Patent Office and the Japan Patent Office have reached this historic agreement. The Patent Prosecution Highway will speed up the examination of patent applications in both countries, leading to a more efficient and effective service to customers. I hope it will be used as a model for international cooperation elsewhere".

The development of work sharing arrangements between the UK Patent Office and other national patent offices is a key recommendation of the recent Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. The UK Patent Office is already discussing the possibility of a similar PPH pilot with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to be launched later this year.

Editors' notes:

  • The pilot arrangement between the UK and Japan will build upon the initial success of the Patent Prosecution Highway currently being piloted by the USPTO and the JPO, and will help promote international efforts to develop work sharing arrangements aimed at reducing cross-national duplication of effort.
  • The UK and Japan patent offices have agreed to trial a new initiative aimed at improving both the quality of patents and the efficiency of processing applications at both offices.
  • The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) initiative will allow patent applicants who have received an examination report by either the UK Patent Office or the Japan Patent Office to request accelerated examination of a corresponding patent application filed in the other country.
  • For businesses in the UK, the PPH initiative will ensure that patent applications are examined by the Japan Patent Office around two years earlier than usual, and the quality of the examination process being enhanced by the additional use of work already carried out by the UK Patent Office.
  • The initiative will help promote international efforts to develop work sharing arrangements aimed at reducing cross-national duplication of effort inherent in the patent system, which was a key recommendation in the recent Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.

Date of release: 26 March 2007

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