Expedite Patent Prosecution with the Patent Prosecution Highway in the US

Expedite Patent Prosecution with the Patent Prosecution Highway in the US

Expedite Patent Prosecution with the Patent Prosecution Highway in the US

The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), introduced by the USPTO in May 2010, is a valuable but sometimes overlooked tool, especially in certain technology sectors. This work-sharing arrangement facilitates accelerated prosecution of patent claims in one participating office based on a positive ruling received in another.

During the fiscal year 2022 (October 2021 – September 2022), participating patent offices with at least 100 petitions filed had an average pendency of 144 days (approximately 4.8 months) from the petition to the First Action. In contrast, the average pendency for the First Office Action at the USPTO is around 16 months. Presently, 55 national and regional patent offices are part of the Global PPH network.

Apart from the Global PPH, the USPTO engages in bilateral PPH agreements with various countries and regions. Recent additions include Morocco (effective April 1, 2023), Malaysia (effective March 2, 2023, to March 3, 2026), France (effective Dec. 1, 2021, to Nov. 30, 2024), and Brazil (effective Dec. 1, 2019, to Nov. 30, 2024).

Additionally, an IP5 PPH pilot program involves collaboration among the USPTO, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). This program allows applicants with allowed claims in one IP5 office to expedite the examination of the corresponding application in another IP5 office.

As of August 31, 2023, approximately 88,354 applications with petitions have been filed through the PPH program at the USPTO, with 78,944 applications having their petitions granted.

USPTO patent applications are eligible for PPH if:

  1. The USPTO application shares a common earliest priority date with a related application from a partnering PPH office.
  2. An indication of allowability for at least one claim in the related application has been received.
  3. All claims in the USPTO application sufficiently correspond to allowable claims in the related application.
  4. Substantive examination has not commenced on the USPTO application. If a restriction requirement has been issued, the application may still be eligible if the examiner has not started the first action on the merits.

Provisional applications, plant applications, design applications, reissue applications, reexamination proceedings, and applications subject to a secrecy order are not eligible for the PPH program.

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