Patent Prosecution Highway

Lia Kopin-Green
October 20, 2022

What is the Patent Prosecution Highway?

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Patent Prosecution Highway, or PPH, “speeds up the examination process for corresponding applications filed in participating intellectual property offices.” The PPH is referred to as the fast-track examination of patent applications.

Patent offices participating in the PPH have come to a collective agreement stating that when an applicant has been approved for at least one of their claims from a patent office, the applicant is eligible for a fast-track examination of corresponding claims in patent application pending in another patent office. The concept may seem complicated at first, but you will get a better understanding of how the PPH works as you continue reading this article.

Key Takeaways

  • The Patent Prosecution Highway or PPH is an agreement in which a patent application whose claims have been approved by an Office of Earlier Examination (OEE) is eligible to undergo a fast-track examination in an Office of Later Examination (OLE) upon an applicant’s request. 
  • By allowing different patent offices to share certain information with each other, the Patent Prosecution Highway accelerates the patent application process.
  • Over 30 offices in 22 different nations, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), are part of the PPH.

How the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Works

As of 2022, more than 30 offices in 22 countries are part of the PPH. The main participants in the PPH include the USPTO, the European Patent Office (EPO), the Chinese Patent Office (SIPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO). Nevertheless, all participating countries are able to take part in this fast-track patent application process. 

The PPH relies on the fact that patent claims, and the patent application as a whole, are nearly identical in many different countries. Therefore, a patent claim that is accepted in one country will likely be accepted in another country with a similar patent policy. As a result, the USPTO believes that accepted patents in certain countries should be subject to a faster approval process in the United States than other patent applications.

The PPH provides a variety of significant benefits to both the patent applicant and the patent examiner at the USPTO. The applicant will not need to fill out as much paperwork as they may have been required in the first patent office, or the Office of Earlier Examination (OEE). The PPH also speeds up the process for the patent examiner since he or she can rely on the same search and examination results that a foreign office used in its patent ruling. Simply put, the PPH is a method used to streamline the patent application process and prevent both applicants and examiners from doing unnecessary work.

Bottom Line

Thanks to the Patent Prosecution Highway, applying for a patent in multiple countries is relatively simple. However, this does not mean you should embark on a patent application journey without support from a professional patent attorney. Connect with one of our seasoned intellectual property lawyers today with Attorney At Law.

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