In carrying out patent search and examination, some patent offices utilize search and examination reports prepared by other offices and patent prosecution information of corresponding foreign applications and patents. Various frameworks, mechanisms and tools have been developed in order to share such search and examination work products.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) allows patent offices to have a “flying start” in their search and examination work by using international search and preliminary examination reports. Further, once the PCT international applications enter into the national phase, additional search and examination information of certain counterpart applications in the national phase is also available on the PATENTSCOPE website.
The WIPO Centralized Access to Search and Examination (WIPO CASE) enables patent offices to securely share search and examination documentation related to patent applications in order to facilitate work sharing programs.
- ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation Program (ASPEC): A work-sharing program with the purpose of sharing search and examination results between the participating intellectual property offices of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
- PROSUR: A system for technical cooperation among industrial property offices of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.
- Vancouver Group : A collaboration agreement established between the intellectual property offices of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, with the aim of sharing information and experiences on common issues and areas relevant to managing a mid-sized national intellectual property office, and contributing to a more effective multilateral approach to work sharing.
- Trilateral cooperation: A number of projects aiming at enhancing worksharing have been carried out by the European Patent Office (EPO), Japan Patent Office (JPO) and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
- IP5: A forum of the patent offices of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America as well as the European Patent Office (EPO). IP5’s One Portal Dossier, which is a platform for the secure exchange of patent search and examination documentation between the IP5 Offices, is linked to WIPO CASE.
- Global Dossier
- European Patent Office Utilization Implementation Project (UIP): Confidential sharing of search and examination results of the national patent Offices of Austria, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Portugal with the EPO through the automated system before the publication of the national applications.Electronic Platform for Collaborative Examination (e-PEC)
- e-PEC.The National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) in Brazil created an online platform, e-PEC, for collaborative examination between patent offices in order to increase the quality of the examination results. The tool has multiple functionalities: (a) allows examiners to access preliminary (not yet published) search and examination reports produced by their peers for applications from the same patent family; (b) allows the interaction between examiners in charge of the examination of patent applications of the same patent family through electronic messages; (c) allows to record relevant information on patent applications. In the first half of 2018, INPI launched the "Pilot Project for Cooperation between the Patent Offices of Brazil and Uruguay" with the use of the Electronic Platform for Collaborative Examination of Patent Applications (e-PEC).
- The Strategic Handling of Applications for Rapid Examination (SHARE) pilot program between the KIPO and the USPTO (concluded). Under the SHARE framework, when corresponding applications were filed in two offices, the Office of First Filing (OFF) conducted a search and examination and shared its findings with the Office of Second Filing (OSF), such that the OSF could maximize re-use of the work performed by the OFF and minimize duplication of examination work.
- The United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) – USPTO Work Sharing Initiative, under which Offices exchange reutilizing each other’s search and examination work products on cross-filed patent applications.
Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)
- Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)
- IP5 PPH Pilot Program
- PCT - PPH Pilot
Unilateral use of work products related to foreign applications and grants
Even in the absence of formal or informal agreements between patent offices, many patent examiners use, where appropriate, search and examination reports as well as other useful information issued by other offices in order to facilitate the examination of corresponding national applications.
Some patent offices publish, on the Internet, certain information relating to search and examination of patent applications (for example, legal status, search and examination reports), which may be accessed by examiners of other offices.
- Advance Industrial Property Network (AIPN) by the Japan Patent Office
- K-PION by the Korean Intellectual Property Office
- European Patent Register
- United States Patent Application Information Retrieval system (PAIR)
In some countries, a patent applicant is required to disclose information concerning the applicant’s corresponding foreign application and grant. Depending on the applicable national law, such information shall be furnished by the applicant in all cases, or it shall be submitted upon request of the patent office. For example, the laws of the following countries provide such requirement: Antigua and Barbuda (Sections 8, 9 of the Patents Act 2003); Brunei Darussalam (Sections 29 and 30 of the Patents Order 2011); China (Articles 34-36 of the Patent Law as last amended on 27/12/2008); Mexico (Articles 54 and 55 of the Industrial Property Law of 25/06/1991as last amended on 14/12/2011); Papua New Guinea (Sections 24 of the Patents and Industrial Designs Act 2000), and EPO (Rule 141(1) and Rule 70 of the Implementing Provisions to the European Patent Convention). Similar provisions in the laws of other countries are found in “Patent-Related Flexibilities in the Multilateral Legal Framework and their Legislative Implementation at the National and Regional Levels – Part II” (document CDIP/7/3 and 3Add).