In another step towards building stronger bilateral relations
and fast-tracking the examination of counterpart patent
applications, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office
(“CIPO”) and the European Patent Office
(“EPO”) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding
(“MOU”) to establish a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)
pilot program between the two patent offices. The PPH pilot program
between CIPO and EPO is set to begin in January 2015. The pilot
program applies to both nationally filed and Patent Cooperation
Treaty (PCT) work products, and will serve to fast-track patent
applications for those applicants who have counterpart applications
in Canada and the European Union.
In brief, the PPH allows applicants to significantly accelerate
the examination of a first patent application in a first partner
office if a corresponding second patent application in a second
partner office has been allowed by the second partner office. To
accelerate the examination of the first patent application, an
applicant will conform the pending claims in the first patent
application to the allowed claims of the corresponding second
patent application. Information regarding the prosecution of the
corresponding second patent application is shared between the first
and second partner offices to accelerate the prosecution
The MOU between CIPO and EPO is significant. According to the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 Annual Reports published
by CIPO, approximately 10,000 applications per relevant fiscal
year (around 30% of total patent filings in Canada during the
relevant fiscal year) were filed by applicants who were noted as
originating from a member state of the European Union. These
numbers, which reflect a sizable portion of the total patent
filings in Canada, at least in part reflect the vested interests of
European Union patent applicants in the Canadian market.
CIPO is currently engaged in PPH pilot programs with close to
twenty other jurisdictions, and its most recent engagement with the
EPO speaks to the increasing inclination towards collaboration
between patent offices in the patent examination process. The end
result will likely be a more streamlined and simplified patent
process for applicants.
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