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Home > Press Releases > Patent Prosecution Highway Pilot Agreement between Japan and UK Patent Offices

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Patent Prosecution Highway Pilot Agreement between Japan and UK Patent Offices

Press Release
March 23, 2007
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

A meeting between the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and the United Kingdom Patent Office (UKPO) will be held on March 26, and both offices are expected to agree to launch a pilot for the "Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)" in July 2007. The aim of the PPH is to allow patent applicants in either country to obtain patents faster in the other country, to reduce the examination workload for both patent offices and to improve the quality of patents. Starting July 2007, those who file patent applications with these two offices will become eligible to use the PPH Pilot Program.
This is a much-awaited agreement for the governments of Japan and the U.K. The PPH between the two countries is listed in the Advanced Measures for Accelerating Reform toward Innovation Plan in Patent Examination 2007 ("AMARI Plan 2007,"formulated by METI headquarters on January 25) as an issue that should be promptly concluded for the promotion of rights acquisition on a global level, and is also a key recommendation in the UK government program to foster innovation.

1. Background

With their operations expanding on a global basis, companies have a growing need to acquire patents in multiple countries, leading to applications on the same invention filed in multiple regions. In this context, the JPO has been seeking international collaboration with other national patent offices in the examination process, with an eye toward improving the efficiency of application examinations and speeding up the patent acquisition process.

2. Patent Prosecution Highway

The PPH is an initiative aimed at giving patent applicants whose applications have been found patentable by the first national patent office an option to request accelerated examination of the corresponding applications to the second national patent office through a simple procedure. This is expected to speed up the process of acquiring foreign patents, as well as reduce examination workloads and improve patent quality by enabling patent offices to use the results of prior-art searches and application examinations by other national patent offices.

3. Pilot between Japan and the UK

The JPO and the UKPO are expected to agree that a pilot for the PPH should begin in July 2007.

4. Toward Global Expansion of the Patent Prosecution Highway

The PPH between Japan and the U.S. has been piloted since July 2006, and the PPH between Japan and South Korea is scheduled to launch in April 2007. The upcoming agreement between Japan and the UK will make the UK the third PPH partner, and the first European PPH partner, for Japan. This arrangement will help expand the same initiative to other countries.
The implementation of the PPH between Japan and the UK is expected to accelerate the introduction of the PPH between third countries and promote a move toward a global network of bilateral PPHs that interconnects many countries across the world.

[Last updated 23 March 2007]

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