Patent Prosecution Highway Program
The KIPO and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) implement a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program which promotes fast-track patent examination in the KIPO and the USPTO to allow applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently in each country.
Under the PPH program, an applicant whose claims are determined to be allowable/patentable in the Office of first filing (OFF) can request that the Office of second filing (OSF) accelerate the examination of a corresponding application where the OSF is allowed to utilize the search and examination results of the OFF.Â While the KIPO and the USPTO can generally share the search and examination results from each other, the specific procedures and requirements for participation in the PPH program are somewhat different between the two offices.
Where the USPTO is the OFF and the U.S. patent application contains claims that are determined to be allowable/patentable, the U.S. applicant may likewise request expedited examination in the KIPO, based on the PPH program, for the corresponding Korean application filed in the KIPO as the OSF.Â The requirements for filing a request to the KIPO for participation in the PPH program are as follows:
the Korean application validly claims priority to an application in the USPTO (including applications that enter into the Korean national phase based on a PCT application, which has no priority claim and indicates both the KIPO and the USPTO as Designated Offices as well as applications that claim priority to a PCT application that has no priority claim);
the U.S. application has at least one claim which is determined to be allowable/patentable;
all claims in the Korean application sufficiently corresponds to, i.e., are practically the same as, the claims which are determined to be allowable/patentable in the U.S.; and
the official fee for the PPH program is paid to the KIPO.
In addition, the following documents must be submitted in order to allow the KIPO to exploit the search and examination results of the USPTO under the PPH program:
copy of claims which are determined to be allowable/patentable by the USPTO;
copies of all office actions in the USPTO;
copies of non-patent references cited by the USPTO examiner, if any; and
a claims correspondence table, explaining how the claims in the Korean application correspond to the allowable/patentable claims in the U.S. application.
Moreover, the KIPO also implements a Patent Prosecution Highway program with the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO).Â The requirements and necessary documents for the PPH program between the KIPO and the JPO, and between the KIPO and the DKPTO are similar to those for the PPH program between the KIPO and the USPTO.
Pilot programs for PPH between Korea and other countries (the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Finland) are now being implemented.Â These trial programs may be extended or terminated, depending on the volumes of activity and other factors.