On November 1, 2017 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) implemented an expansion of the Collaborative Search Pilot Program (CSP), which began in 2015 and ended earlier in 2017, to expedite prosecution of related applications at the USPTO and the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) or Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). The original CSP is discussed in the Global IP Matters article Expediting Patent Prosecution with the New Collaborative Search Pilot Program. The new expanded CSP eases some requirements for participation in the program and increases the number of grantable CSP petitions per year, which should make the free CSP more attractive to applicants having patent applications co-pending at the USPTO and the JPO or KIPO.
Two new Collaboration Search Pilot Programs are or will soon be available to patent applicants. The Collaboration Search Pilot Program (CSP) between the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) is available as of August 1, 2015. The CSP between the USPTO and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) becomes available on September 1, 2015. The CSPs, which are free, afford applicants the opportunity to expedite prosecution of related applications at the USPTO and at the JPO or KIPO. Unlike the Patent Prosecution Highway, allowance need not be secured in one of the participating offices prior to expediting examination in another office.
In general, the CSPs allow the USPTO and the JPO/KIPO to each conduct a prior art search for its pending application and share the search results with the applicant before a first action is mailed to the applicant. The pilot nature of the CSPs will allow the offices to evaluate whether the search sharing improves the examination process or provides more consistent results across the patent offices. Additionally, U.S. applications under either CSP will be granted special status and placed on the examiner’s special docket, effectively moving the application up in the queue for speedier examination.