Christmas has come early for patent applicants in India! In an attempt to reduce patent pendency periods and improve the quality of search and examination of patent applications, the Union Cabinet on Tuesday (20th of November 2019) formally approved a proposal for Bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Program between the Indian patent office and patent offices of various other interested countries/regions.
This approval comes after the Government set the ball rolling for faster examination of patents and grants earlier this September by introducing seven additional categories of applicants who could file for a request to expedite examination of their patent applications. This option of filing expedited examination was earlier reserved only for startups and applicants designating India as ISA or electing India as IPEA in their corresponding PCT applications. While the patent amendment rules of September 2019 did provide an opportunity for “Applicants of those countries whose patent offices are in an agreement / arrangement with the Indian patent office” to file for expedited examination, no such programs / agreements existed between the IPO and any other patent office across the world. Following a bilateral agreement between India & Japan, the JPO (Japan Patent Office) has become the first patent office to establish a PPH program with the IPO.
According to DPIIT’s (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade) twitter handle, the PPH program will commence between (JPO) and Indian Patent Office on a pilot basis for a period of three years. During this period, the Indian Patent Office will receive patent applications in certain specified technical fields and Indian inventors including Startups and MSMEs will be able to get their patent applications filed in Japan expedited towards grant. The same is likely to be the case for Japanese applicants filing patent applications in India. The official document of agreement has not been made public as yet and we will have to wait until the same is made available for public viewing in order to know and understand fully the agreements under the PPH program.
The formal approval for a PPH program certainly heralds new prospects for patent applicants who have been demanding the same from a long time now. It is quite likely that the IPO will soon establish PPH programs with several other major patent offices and jurisdictions such as the EPO and USPTO. In the meanwhile however patent applicants should certainly consider making full use of these prospects.
Join us this 23rd of November 2019 and learn the various strategies of obtaining a patent within one year in India.
Authored by Gaurav Mishra