The UK and Germany have agreed to streamline bilateral work procedures with the aid of a patent prosecution highway (PPH). Launched this month by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) and German IP registry Deutsche Patent und Markenamt (DPMA), the partnership is designed to make the examination process easier for patent applicants.
Announcing the venture, the UK-IPO said that the PPH ‘allows you to request accelerated examination of your patent application if you have received an examination report by the DPMA for the same invention. Similarly, you can request accelerated examination at the DPMA if we have already conducted the examination of your patent – and you have filed an application relating to the same invention – in Germany’.
Welcoming the scheme, UK IP minister Baroness Wilcox said: ‘Speeding up the international patent process means that British businesses wishing to expand abroad can do so more quickly and cheaply. The PPH adds an important partner to the existing schemes the UK-IPO already has with a number of other countries. The agreement will provide a more efficient and affordable system for British and German businesses.’
Under the terms of the arrangement, the PPH will run for an initial, one-year pilot period until 1 March 2013. Partners in ongoing PPH schemes with the UK-IPO include Japan, South Korea, Canada and the US.
In January this year, the UK-US venture upgraded from a pilot programme to become PPH 2.0 – a more simplified version of the arrangement based upon learnings gleaned from the trial phase. While the revised requirements for PPH 2.0 provide for preferential treatment on bilateral filings, they put the onus on applicants to ensure that the eligibility criteria are clearly met.
‘Where the request for participation in the programme and special status are granted,’ say the guidelines, ‘the applicant will be notified and the US application will be advanced out of turn for examination. In those instances where the request for participation in the programme does not meet all the requirements, the applicant will be notified and the defects in the request will be identified. The applicant will then be given one opportunity to perfect the request in a renewed request for participation.’
Download a full PDF of the UK-German PPH guidelines from here