The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is a bilateral program between two patent offices that utilizes work-sharing and cooperation to increase efficiency, shorten examination time, and improve patent quality. The USPTO alone has over 30 PPH or Patent Cooperation Treaty PPH (PCT-PPH) agreements with patent offices around the world, and many more exist between other foreign patent offices.
The Japanese Patent Office (JPO) and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) have had a PPH program in effect since April 2007. Under this program, an applicant could fast-track an application in one patent office if claims in the corresponding application in the other patent office were deemed patentable.
Recently, the JPO and KIPO launched a PCT-PPH program scheduled to commence on July 1, 2012. The PCT-PPH would allow one to fast-track their application in either patent office based on a favorable written opinion issued by the JPO or KIPO as the International Searching Authority or the International Preliminary Examining Authority. Japan and South Korea are among the top patent filing destinations in the world, and this program will certainly be attractive to many applicants looking to reduce patent pendency time and costs.
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