Collaborative Search and Examination (CS&E)
On 1 July 2018, the IP5 Offices launched a Collaborative Search and Examination (CS&E) pilot project to test a collaborative approach to international searches under the PCT, in particular with a view to assessing the users’ interest for such a new PCT product as well as the expected efficiency gains for the participating Offices. This pilot, as well as two earlier pilots between the European Patent Office (EPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), follows a recommendation by the PCT Working Group in June 2010 to carry out trials of arrangements whereby examiners in International Authorities with complementary skills work together to establish a report. The new pilot aims to further develop and test the CS&E concept amongst the IP5 Offices.
The timeline below summarizes the different phases of the CS&E pilot in a Pilot Roadmap:
The main features of this CS&E pilot project are:
- an applicant-driven approach: the applications processed during the pilot are selected by applicants
- a balanced workload distribution: all collaborating International Authorities contribute to the establishment of each CS&E work product; each office will process approximately 100 international applications in its role as “main ISA” and approximately 400 international applications in its role as “peer ISA” over two years
- a common set of quality and operational standards are applied by all collaborating International Authorities when processing the PCT applications
- the final international search report (ISR) and written opinion are prepared by the main ISA, taking the views of the peer ISAs into account but not referring to or explaining any differences of opinion – the contributions of the peer ISAs will, however, be visible to the applicant through ePCT once the international search report has been received and processed by the International Bureau, and will appear on PATENTSCOPE once the ISR has been published.
The IP5 Offices agreed that at a later point in the pilot, they may also accept applications filed in languages other than English.
The model below summarizes the processes involved and some of the expected benefits.
Further details on the concept and framework of this CS&E pilot project and the requirements for participation are available via the IP5 Offices’ respective websites:
- European Patent Office (EPO) (another 50 applications in English, French and German accepted from 1 July 2019)
- Japan Patent Office (JPO) (applications in Japanese with English translation accepted from 1 April 2019; further information available )
- Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) (applications in Korean with English translation accepted from 28 June 2019; further information and guidelines available).
- National Intellectual Property Administration, PRC (CNIPA) (from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 applications in English and Chinese accepted; further information available)
- United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) (new applications accepted from 1 July 2019)
The current number of applications accepted by each Office as main ISA can be found here.
Unless expressly stated otherwise by a particular receiving Office, participation in the pilot requires a request to participate to be submitted with the application as filed, either generated using the function provided within ePCT for applications filed using ePCT, or by using the editable PDF file provided below, which should be printed directly to PDF or printed and scanned to PDF, and then uploaded in the relevant electronic filing system.
Although the form has already been translated into other languages, initially, the pilot will only accept international applications filed in English and so only the English form should be used for the time being. However, the IP5 Offices have agreed that at a later point in the pilot, they will also accept applications filed in other languages accepted by the main ISA if a translation into English is provided for the use of the peer ISAs. Versions in the other five languages expected to be supported at a later stage will be provided below.
Applicants participating in the pilot will only pay the standard fee for the international search at the competent ISA (the “main ISA”), and final ISRs and written opinions established by the main ISA within the CS&E framework will be made available to the public on PATENTSCOPE like any other ISRs and written opinions. Additionally, peer contributions prepared by the peer ISAs will be made available as separate documents on PATENTSCOPE.
It is important to note that this pilot is limited to 500 international applications in total and 10 applications per applicant per main ISA.