As discussed in previous posts, the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is a work-sharing program designed to improve the efficiency of prosecution among international patent offices and help reduce workload and backlog. Recently, the USPTO announced the creation of PPH pilot programs with Israel and the Nordic Patent Institute (which covers Denmark, Norway and Iceland), as well as the expansion of the existing program with Korea.
The PPH between the USPTO and the Israel Patent Office is scheduled to commence on July 1, 2011 and expire on June 30, 2012. Under this PPH, a finding from the USPTO that at least one claim in the application is patentable will allow the applicant to fast-track the corresponding application in the Israel Patent Office, and vice versa.
Similarly, the PPH between the USPTO and the Nordic Patent Office is also set to begin on July 1, 2011 and remain in effect for 1 year. Under this pilot, a favorable written opinion or international preliminary report on patentability issued by the Nordic Patent Institute entitles the applicant to accelerated examination in the USPTO.
The PPH between the USPTO and the Korean IP Office began on June 1, 2010. In this initial pilot, favorable PCT work product issued by the Korean IP Office permitted the applicant to fast-track the corresponding application in the USPTO. Under the expanded PPH between US and Korea, set to commence on July 1, 2011, favorable PCT work product performed by the USPTO will allow the applicant to fast-track the corresponding application in Korea.
With numerous programs and initiatives at the USPTO put on hold (many of them intended to reduce the application backlog), these PPH pilots are welcome steps to help speed up prosecution.
More information on the Patent Prosecution Highway is available here.