The UK IPO has issued a press release, "Patent Prosecution Highway to be extended to cover International Applications", which says, in relevant part:
"Following a successful initial launch period, the scope of the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot agreements between the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO), the US Patent and Trade Mark Office (USPTO) and the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) are to be extended.The IPKat presumes that the PPH pilot scheme is being extended either because (i) it has initially worked well or (ii) because it is politically or strategically expedient to do so. The Press Release suggests the former, but neither it nor the accompanying Notes for Editors has given any clue as to how heavily it has been used [Merpel adds, I haven't even heard people talking about it ...]. Can anyone enlighten us?
The extended procedure is now in force for the PPH with the USPTO, whilst the extended procedure relating to the PPH with the JPO will come in to force on 25 March 2008.
The Patent Prosecution Highway allows patent applicants who have received an examination report from one of the relevant national intellectual property offices to request accelerated examination of a corresponding patent application filed in another relevant country.
To date, the PPH pilot at the UK-IPO has only considered requests for accelerated examination relating to applications that were initially filed and examined at either the JPO or the USPTO. However, the pilot scheme is now being extended to cover examination reports issued by the JPO and USPTO which arise from an international application.
Under the new procedure, once the international application has been examined at either the JPO or the USPTO the applicant will be able to request accelerated examination at the UK-IPO. The agreement also allows accelerated examination at the JPO and the USPTO when the UK-IPO conducts an examination of an international application before it is examined at the JPO or USPTO".