The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is a program through which
examination of a Canadian patent application may be accelerated by
aligning the Canadian patent claims with those issued or allowed in
a foreign counterpart application.
As of January 2014, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office
(CIPO) is part of the Global PPH (GPPH) pilot program. The patent
offices from the following countries are also involved in the GPPH:
Australia, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Japan,
Korea, Nordic Patent Office, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain,
Sweeden, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
Canada also has PPH agreements with China, Germany, and Mexico.
The program can also be accessed based on claims deemed to be
allowable in an international search report (ISR) issued in Canada
or the United States.
Using the PPH
There are no government fees for using the PPH program. A
Canadian application is eligible if:
1. the claims are "sufficiently similar" to those
allowed or issued in the foreign counterpart;
2. the application is open to public inspection;
3. examination is requested but no Office Action has issued;
4. the application has never been abandoned.
An amendment may be filed to align the Canadian claims with
those of the foreign counterpart. There are no claim fees in Canada
and claims from multiple foreign counterparts may be combined.
Once accepted into the PPH program, CIPO will issue an Office
Action (or Notice of Allowance) within three months. The Applicant
will then have three months to respond. Delays can result in the
application being expelled from the program.
Benefits of the PPH
The PPH provides a means to accelerate prosecution in Canada and
other PPH jurisdictions without fee, thereby reducing portfolio
management time and costs. Use of the PPH can also provide
consistency in scope of protection across multiple
Drawbacks of the PPH
By limiting the claims to those of a foreign counterpart, an
Applicant may be giving up scope that could have otherwise been
pursued in Canada.
Whereas some jurisdictions have a flexible divisional practice,
permitting an Applicant to pursue additional claims in a later
application, Canada does not. Divisional applications are
vulnerable to double patenting challenges in Canada, unless they
are filed in response to a unity of invention objection, and
terminal disclaimer is not a remedy. Therefore, it is advised to
pursue all potential claims in a single application in Canada.
Alternatives to the PPH
Examination may be accelerated in Canada by two alternative
1. Special Order may be requested by paying a government fee and
indicating that failure to accelerate prosecution may prejudice the
Applicant's rights. No reasoning or evidence is required.
2. Green Technology applications are eligible for accelerated
examination if the application relates to a technology that, if
commercialized, would help resolve or mitigate environmental
impacts or conserve the natural environment and resources. There is
no government fee for this program.
An Applicant is not limited by the scope of claims granted in a
foreign jurisdiction when using these alternative routes.
Using the PPH in Reverse
An Applicant may consider accelerating prosecution in Canada via
one of the routes listed above and then entering the PPH in another
jurisdiction based on the allowed Canadian claims.
The PPH is an effective means to accelerate patent prosecution
but may not always be the best route for Canada due to our laws on
double patenting. In some cases, better protection can be obtained
by accelerating examination via an alternative route. A patent
agent can help you navigate this highway.
Originally published in LifeSigns - Life Sciences Legal
Trends in Canada
A recent Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench decision allowed a court-appointed receiver to sell and transfer intellectual property rights free and clear of encumbrances, finding that a license to use improvements of an invention was a contractual interest and not a property interest.
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