Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) in Japan

Japan has been a leading country in the PPH programs aiming to speed up processing of patent applications through the exchange and mutual use of work products. The Japanese Patent Office (JPO) actively contributes to linking IP Offices' systems for sharing information on filings and examination as well as making it possible for users to access such information.

The Japanese Patent Office (JPO) is currently conducting Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programs with 40 countries/regions including its participation in GPPH and IP5. To see the full list of cooperating IP offices, please click here.

Main conditions for submitting a PPH request to the JPO:

  • the corresponding applications must share the earliest priority;
  • claims of the Japanese application must sufficiently correspond to the claims identified by the Office of Earlier Examination (OEE) as patentable by having the same or similar (narrower) scope of protection;
  • at least one of the corresponding applications must have one or more claims determined patentable/allowable;
  • substantive examination on Japanese application has not begun.

Substantive examination is considered to have begun when JPO issues a first office action. However, this could occur at any time after the request for examination had been submitted. Therefore, applicants wishing to request accelerated examination under the PPH program should proceed with the PPH request without any delay after receiving an indication from the OEE that one or more claims are allowable.

The latest work product that indicates the claims to be patentable/allowable must be submitted together with its Japanese or English translations, if English translation is not available. When submitting translation of claims, the applicant shall submit correspondence table to indicate how claims sufficiently correspond to the claims indicated as allowable by OEE.

If all requirements are met, patent prosecution of a PPH application runs considerably faster and at no additional charge to regular fees. On average, after the PPH request has been made, examination commences in 2 months and final decision is made within the following seven months.  

Japan has proven the PPH programs to be important steps toward the harmonization of patent systems and examination standards as well as maintaining consistency in examination quality. Besides, JPO has implemented the accelerated examination process with respect to green-related technologies, applications filed by SMEs and venture businesses, universities and public research institutions, working-related and/or internationally filed applications, and others.

Applicants mainly focus on having their patents granted as fast as possible, and in as many countries as possible. Considering this, the JPO is open to innovations and creation of a flexible patent system which would harmonize international patent systems and strives to avoid redundancy in search and examination and achieve mutual recognition of results among the Patent Offices.