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USPTO Enhances Cooperation With EPO

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

31 October 2011

In their continuing efforts to promote harmonization in the field of patents, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have launched a dedicated website for the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) initiative.

The CPC is a joint project aimed at developing a joint patent classification system for inventions that will be used by both offices in the search and examination of patent applications, and the launch of the website, which will contain detailed information about the new classification scheme, highlights the progress of this collaborative effort over the year since they agreed to work toward its formation.

The CPC will incorporate the best classification practices of both the US and European systems. Both offices also believe that the CPC will enhance efficiency and support work sharing initiatives with a view to reducing unnecessary duplication of work. The two offices plan to start using the new scheme on January 1, 2013.

"The launch of the CPC website one year after the signing of the agreement is a first significant achievement on the way to greater harmonization in the patent system. The innovation market is a global market, and in order to efficiently support it with a quality-based patent system, it is essential that patent offices in the large economic regions align the procedures and tools", said EPO President Benoît Battistelli.

"The new classification system not only benefits both offices, it will also make it easier for innovators to use the wealth of information contained in patent documents,” he continued. “It is an important part of our commitment to offering better services to innovators and industry.”

"The development of a common basis for classifying inventions is a further step forward in bringing the European and the US patent systems closer together," added Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, David Kappos. "The project is also a stepping stone towards harmonizing the patent procedures of all the major patent offices around the globe.”

At the same time, the USPTO also announced a new pilot project for the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) with the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO). The PPH will permit each office to benefit from work previously done by the other office, which reduces the examination workload and improves patent quality.

The expedited examination in each office allows applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently in each country. Under the PPH pilot programme, an office of second filing may utilize the search and examination results of a national application filed in the office of first filing in a corresponding application filed under the Paris Convention.

NIPO’s Acting Director General Toril Foss stated: “We are proud of the NIPO’s first cooperation agreement on PPH pilot programme with the USPTO. It will be very valuable for our office to cooperate with the USPTO with a view to improving timeliness and quality for the benefit of the society and our common users.”

“We welcome this new cooperation with the NIPO,” concluded Kappos. “This new PPH program with such a highly skilled office will benefit our stakeholders through accelerated examination and higher patent quality.”

The trial period will start on November 1, 2011, and is set to expire on October 31, 2012, but may be extended for up to one year or terminated earlier depending on volume of activity and other factors. The offices will provide notice of any adjustment in the trial period.

TAGS: business | patents | law | intellectual property | patent highway | Norway | patent search | United States | standards | regulation | European Union (EU) | Europe

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