On 12 March 2010, the President of the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) and the commissioner of the Korean Patent Office (KIPO) signed an agreement for a pilot project to accelerate examination of patent applications under a so-called Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH).
A Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is an agreement between two patent offices to share information so that each participating patent office can benefit from the work previously done by the other patent office, with the goal of reducing examination workload and improving patent quality. A PPH enables an Applicant to request accelerated examination at one patent office provided that an equivalent patent application had previously been filed at the other patent office and that at least one patent claim had been determined to be patentable by the other patent office.
The PPH pilot project between the DPMA and the KIPO will be launched on 1 July 2010 for an initial term of two years, with the option for renewal thereafter. After the expiry of the pilot project, the PPH will be evaluated by both offices.
Prior to the new Korean PPH, the DPMA had already launched successful pilot PPH schemes with both the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
In the initial pilot phase for the German/Japanese PPH, requests could only be filed in respect of patent applications (national applications or international applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty [PCT]) claiming a Japanese or German priority. In light of the success of the initial pilot phase of the German/Japanese PPH, both offices have agreed to extend the pilot phase for a further two years until 24 March 2012 and to expand its scope so that Applicants may also request processing under the PPH in respect of PCT applications not claiming a German or Japanese priority (the so-called "direct PCT route").
With the addition of the PPH with the Korean Patent Office and the extension of the PPH with the German Patent Office, the DPMA has demonstrated its commitment to the PPH network, which now offers Applicants a broad range of opportunities for taking advantage of accelerated prosecution when implementing a worldwide filing strategy. Please contact our Munich office if you have any enquiries in this regard.