By: Mark R. Malek
In a press release issued last week, the USPTO announced its participation in a pilot program to test an enhanced framework for the Patent Prosecution Highway. Under the provisions of the Patent Prosecution Highway, an Applicant that receives a notice from an Office of First Filing that at least one of the claims they filed is allowable can request that an application pending before an Office of Second Filing be “fast tracked.” This is odd in that it is a form of government efficiency (picking up the sarcasm yet?).
If that impresses you, the new framework for the Patent Prosecution Highway will blow your mind. Under the current plan, eligibility to participate is limited to reuse of search and examination results from partner offices of the first filed application in the patent family. The new framework allows for applicants to request participation on the basis of results available on any patent family member from any office participating in the pilot program.
Ready for the translation? Essentially, Applicants that file foreign applications are likely to have applications pending in many jurisdictions. Sometimes, these applications may all be pending at the same time without any response from the Office of First Filing. For example, an Applicant may have filed an application in the United States as the Office of First Filing. Let’s say that the no action has been taken on the application, but that the Applicant has also filed similar applications in Australia, Canada and Denmark, in that order (all offices that participate in the Patent Prosecution Highway). Let’s then assume that a response is received from Denmark indicating that at least one of the claims is patentable. Since the Denmark application represents the Office of Fourth Filing, under the current plan, the Patent Prosecution Highway provisions would not apply. This new pilot program removes that restriction, and allows an Applicant to request that their application be “fast tracked” based on the results from the Denmark Patent Office.
I am happy to see that the Patent Offices around the world are coordinating with one another in an effort to speed things along. I guess that everyone realizes that protecting innovation, in a somewhat expedient manner, does help the economy.