A pilot program of the Trilateral Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”)-Patent Prosecution Highway began January 29, 2010, and is planned to run for two years. The program fast-tracks patent examinations in the European Patent Office (“EPO”), the Japan Patent Office (“JPO”) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) for PCT applications receiving a positive written opinion of the International Searching Authority or the International Preliminary Examinating Authority from the EPO, JPO or USPTO. In effect, the work product from any of these patent authorities (acting in its PCT capacity) serves as the basis for a petition to make special in the USPTO.
US Applicants may request participation by filing the appropriate form (Form PTO/ SB/20PCT-EP or Form PTO/SB/20PCT-JP). When filled via EFS-Web, the form is indexed as “Petition to make special under PCT-Patent Pros Hwy”.
On a related note, Applications may now be prepared in a Common Application Format (CAF) developed by the Trilateral Office. This format streamlines direct filings in the EPO, JPO and USPTO where applications in this format are not subject to additional formality requirements. For US applicants, the CAF goes beyond what is required in the US. However, using the CAF can provide significant savings when nationalizing PCT applications in the EPO and JPO. More information may be found at by clicking here.
Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this update to the patent prosecution highway.