Under the Patent Prosecution Highway, an applicant receiving a ruling from either the UK IPO or the USPTO that at least one claim in an application is patentable may request that the other office fast track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications. Full requirements for participation in the trial program at the USPTO can be found at www.uspto.gov/web/patents/pph/pph_index.html. According to the press release from the UK Patent Office, patent applicants will be required to submit search and examination reports prepared by the other patent office in order qualify for accelerated treatment.
The purpose of the trial program is to gauge the interest of applicants and determine if the program improves quality and efficiency and reduces the workload at the USPTO and the UK IPO. The trial period is set to expire September 4, 2008, but may be extended for up to one year or terminated earlier depending on volume of activity and other factors. Both offices will provide notice of any adjustment in the trial period.