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Patent Prosecution Highway

Posted Thursday, September 17, 2009 by Jim Ruttler

There are currently procedures with a number of foreign patent offices to advance examination of patent applications when a corresponding U.S. patent application has been allowed. For instance, when a U.S. patent application has been examined and claims have been found to be allowable, an applicant can turn around and use this finding of allowability to request that examination of corresponding foreign patent applications be expedited. This obviously requires foreign patent applications to have been filed within the requisite time frame (generally 12 months from the U.S. filing date or 30 months from the U.S. filing date when a PCT application has been filed within 12 months of the U.S. filing date). However, pendency of foreign applications can be significantly reduced to only a few months once the corresponding U.S. application has been found allowable. The official statistics also indicate that the likelihood of rejections goes down along with the number of rejections. Currently, only Japan and Korean offer a patent prosecution highway, but there are a number of other foreign patent offices that offer a pilot program: http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/pph/.

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