Until recently, someone seeking a U.S. patent could not speed up the patenting process by a simple request. One had to show that there were special circumstances.
Examples of special circumstances are plans to manufacture in the U.S., an invention that falls within certain special categories, third party activities that would infringe the claims, infirmity or advanced age of the applicant, and compliance with a burdensome special examination procedure.
On 29 September 2008, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched a joint pilot programme based on the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme already implemented between the USPTO and certain other Patent Offices. The PPH allows patent applicants meeting certain minimal conditions to use positive patent examination results obtained in one Patent Office to obtain quicker examination in the other Patent Office.
For patent applicants filing European priority applications, the new PPH pilot programme can speed up examination of the later-filed corresponding U.S. patent application when the applicant obtains a positive EPO examination report, such as a positive extended European search report, and submits it to the USPTO prior to the start of patent examination in the U.S.
Taking early steps to accelerate examination of the European patent application increases the chance of obtaining a timely positive examination report under the PPH and potentially reduces U.S. and European patent pending time even further.
The newly announced PPH applies to patent applications lodged in the USPTO within one year of filing a corresponding patent application at the EPO, and vice versa. PCT, provisional, plant and design applications, inter alia, are excluded from participation. Certain fees and formalities are required to participate.
Those wanting to benefit from this development may contact VEREENIGDE for more details.