Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) in USA

Latest developments at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) regarding the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) have made it even easier for applicants to receive expedited allowances of the US patent applications.

Main conditions for submitting a PPH request to the USPTO:

  • the corresponding applications must share the earliest priority;
  • claims must sufficiently correspond to the claims identified 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 USPTO application has not begun.

Basically, requests to USPTO may be made under Paris Route PPH or PCT PPH for US equivalent applications that has not undergone substantive examination.

At USPTO, substantive examination has begun when an office action regarding substantive examination is issued. Even if substantive prosecution has begun, there is an option to file a US divisional, continuation, or continuation-in-part application and submit petition for entry of that application into the PPH.

Substantive examination under the PPH is conducted according to the US law and guidelines in the same way as non-PPH applications. Furthermore, submission of Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) is required as appropriate to the patent law of the USPTO. However, while there is no guarantee that the result of the USPTO examination will match that of the Office of Earlier Examination (OEE), PPH applications in general enjoy higher allowance rates, faster prosecution and fewer office actions than non-PPH applications.

Use of PPH programs offers significant strategic possibilities and attracts applicants seeking quick and efficient protection in several countries.

Despite the fact that USPTO is a participant of GPPH, IP5 PPH, and other PPH agreements, all PPH programs run concurrently and the USPTO applicants need not specify which program is being utilized. There is no additional fee for filing a PPH request.

List of the countries participating in PPH programs with USPTO can be found here.

A link to more details regarding the PPH can be found here.