There is a new opportunity being afforded PCT applications (on a beta test or pilot basis) that receive positive results in the international phase to enter the PPH program. The pilot PCT-PPH program is only available in certain participating Offices, namely, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Japan Patent Office (JPO), European Patent Office (EPO), Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), Austrian Patent Office (APO), Russian Patent Office (ROSPATENT), and the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO). In the PCT-PPH program, if the International Search Authority is one of the participating Offices and has issued a favorable Written Opinion or International Preliminary Examination Report on patentability, the applicant may request that a corresponding national phase entry or a national application filed at the USPTO receive streamlined examination under the PCT-PPH program.
The claims must be the same, similar or narrower in scope of the corresponding PCT application to be considered to “sufficiently correspond” with the claims indicated as having novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability. Claims that are narrower in scope must be presented in dependent form; however, the applicant can incorporate the limitations from an allowed or objected-to dependent claim into an independent claim during prosecution of the application. The applicant can also add limitations into claims during prosecution, but they must be presented in dependent form.
The pilot PCT-PPH program is on a trial period, which started January 29, 2010 and will continue to January 28, 2014, during which time the Offices will collect information to be used in a final determination of the success of the program.