For several years, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and patent offices in a number of other countries have participated in bilateral pilot programs called the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH). This allowed a patent applicant receiving a ruling from the patent office in one country to request fast track treatment of the corresponding application in the other country.
The program was later expanded to include applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT, signed in 1970, provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications in member countries.
Starting January 6, 2014, the old PPH program has been replaced by a new Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) program.
The countries that will initially participate are:
- The US
- The United Kingdom
Patent applicants receiving a ruling from any member patent office that at least one claim of a patent application is allowable can request that one or more of the other member patent offices accelerate the review of the corresponding patent application.
Applicants will be able to use a single form and follow a common set of guidelines for all the patent offices.
The GPPH pilot program can save money and time for patent applicants seeking international protection for their inventions. It can be especially valuable in rapidly evolving technology fields where it’s important to gain a commercial advantage by filing patents as early as possible.