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U.S. Patent Office Signs New, Expanded Reciprocity Deals

USPTO building (USPTO.gov)

(USPTO.gov)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced new or expanded patent reciprocity agreements with Israel, Korea, and the Nordic Patent Institute that covers Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. All of the agreements involve pilot tests of expedited patent examinations between the U.S. and partner countries.

USPTO calls the overall reciprocity program the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH). The expedited examinations in each office allow applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently with each country. The purpose of the pilot tests is to gauge the interest of applicants, and determine if the service improves quality, efficiency, and reduces workloads at the collaborating agencies.

The pilot program with the Israel Patent Office is one of the new agreements. An applicant receiving a ruling from the Israel Patent Office that indicates at least one claim in an application is patentable may request that the USPTO fast track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications. Similarly, if the USPTO determines that at least one claim is patentable, the applicant may request accelerated processing of corresponding applications filed at the Israel Patent Office.

The Nordic Patent Institute (NPI) pilot is also a result of one of the new agreements.  An applicant receiving a positive written opinion or a positive international preliminary report in an application based on NPI’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) — where the NPI was the International Searching Authority or the International Preliminary Examination Authority — may request that the USPTO fast track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications.

The pilot program with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) began on 1 June 2010, and the new agreement expands on the initial test, which will now permit Korea’s PCT work-product done by the USPTO as a basis to enter into KIPO. An applicant receiving a positive written opinion or a positive international preliminary report in a PCT application where KIPO was the International Searching Authority or the International Preliminary Examination Authority may request that the USPTO fast track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications.

Each of the new or expanded pilots begin on 1 July 2011. The Israel and Nordic pilots expire on 30 June 2012, while the expanded Korea pilot expires on 31 May 2012. USPTO says these timetables may be adjusted based on the volume of activity or other factors.

Read more: U.S., Europe Agree on Patent Classification Principles

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