In March 2010 the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (IPO) announced plans to begin cooperation on increasing the efficiency and quality of the patent examination process by making greater use of each other’s work on commonly filed patent applications and eliminating duplication of work.  This initiative will yield efficiencies in patent processing and thus shorten the innovation cycle.  Work sharing is central to the efforts of both patent offices to fuel economic growth and create jobs – which are high priorities for both governments.

The offices have completed foundational work and preliminary studies and will begin work-sharing implementation in October.  The initial phase of implementation will focus on maximizing re-use during examination of commonly filed applications by providing access to work completed and currently made available by each office.  This will be combined with examiner training, data collection and analysis to gauge effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.  At the same time the offices will work on such longer-term issues as easier access to each office’s application files to create a more robust work-sharing environment.

“By enabling both offices to maximize the use of each other’s search and examination results, this work-sharing initiative should reduce patent backlogs and help us process patents more efficiently,” Under Secretary and Director of the USPTO David Kappos commented.  “I believe that it will serve as a model for our efforts at work-sharing with other countries as a means to improve the global patent system and bring innovation to market sooner.”

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