Japan and Vietnam implemented a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot program that took effect on 01 April 2016.
In 2014, approximately 50% of the total filed applications at the NOIP remained pending and unexamined. To facilitate the reduction of backlog at NOIP and expedite the patent examination process, NOIP signed its first Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) agreement with JPO in October 2015.
The PPH pilot program commenced with a capped number of requests on 1 April 2016 and will end on 31 March 2019. An application which has received allowance or grant by the Office of First Filing (OFF) can file a request under the PPH to fast track the examination of its corresponding claims in its corresponding Vietnamese application in the Office of Second Filing (OSF) on the basis of bilateral office agreements.
There may be an extension of the PPH pilot program after a joint NOIP-JPO review and assessment of the program implementation.
This PPH pilot program may be requested using the national work products from the JPO or from the NOIP. It is also possible that NOIP will sign similar agreements with other patent offices in the future if the outcome of this PPH trial proves favourable.
Given the increasing numbers of worldwide patent filings, there is a need to provide an alternative route to expedite the examination of these applications.The PPH program not only speeds up the prosecution of patent cases, but is also very cost-effective. While there are shortcomings with the PPH option, the benefits will outweigh these shortcomings as the PPH network grows. There is no doubt that most ASEAN member countries will continue with their respective PPH programs over the coming years.