Intellectual property – guidance

Patents: accelerated processing

The Intellectual Property Office offers different methods of accelerating the examination procedure on your patent application.

Green Channel

The Green Channel for patent applications was introduced on 12 May 2009. This service allows applicants to request accelerated processing of their patent application if the invention has an environmental benefit.

The applicant must make a request in writing, indicating:

  1. How their application is environmentally-friendly.
  2. Which actions they wish to accelerate:-search, examination, combined search and examination, and/or publication.

The service is available to patent applicants who make a reasonable assertion that the invention has some environmental benefit. If, for example, the invention is a solar panel or a wind turbine then a simple statement is likely to be enough. However a more efficient manufacturing process which uses less energy is likely to need more explanation. We will not conduct any detailed investigation into these assertions, but will refuse requests if they are clearly unfounded, for example if the application relates to a perpetual motion machine. Applications will only be accelerated when requested by the applicant; there is no automatic Green Channel entry for particular areas of technology.

This service may be requested in relation to applications filed prior to 12 May 2009 as well as in relation to those filed after this date. The written request can be made electronically as a covering letter using the Office’s online patent filing services, or can be posted to us. The request can be made at the same time as filing the application, or can be made on a later date, quoting the application number.

We have created a database that enables a search for published applications and granted patents which have been accelerated under the Green Channel.

There is no fee for using this service.

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) (UK) Fast Track

This acceleration service is available to international (PCT) applications entering the national phase if the claims have been found to be acceptable in the International preliminary examination report or the written opinion of the International Searching Authority. Further information is available in the form of a practice notice.

There is no fee for using this service.

Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)

The PPH is an initiative which provides you with a means of significantly accelerating examination of your patent application if examination work has already been conducted at another intellectual property office.

Under the PPH agreements, if the claims of your application have been found to be acceptable by a first intellectual property office, you may request accelerated examination of a corresponding application at a second office.

The PPH puts in place a procedure whereby intellectual property offices can make use of relevant work already conducted by another office when conducting the patent examination.

Making use of this work greatly improves our efficiency and can also improve the quality of the patents that we issue. The procedure can provide you with a granted patent for your invention much sooner than would normally be possible.

There is no fee for using this service.

Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH)

The GPPH pilot program was launched in January 2014, allowing applicants who have had claims allowed by a first participating office to request acceleration of one or more co-pending applications at any or all of the other participating offices, with all of the participating offices evaluating such requests based on the same set of agreed criteria.

A full list of the offices participating in the GPPH can be found on the PPH Portal. Please note that the GPPH supersedes our existing agreements with:

  • the Japan Patent Office
  • the United States Patent and Trademark Office
  • the Korean Intellectual Patent Office
  • the Canadian Intellectual Patent Office

Requests for accelerated processing at the IPO under the GPPH should be made in accordance with the respective guidelines.

Germany

In March 2012 we started a bi-lateral pilot PPH program with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) for an initial period of one year, with the pilot now having been extended until 28th February 2017.

Requests for accelerated processing at the IPO based on the UK-German PPH agreement should be made in accordance with the respective guidelines.

Please refer to the procedure for requesting accelerated examination at the DPMA based on an application filed with us.

China

On 1 July 2014 we launched a bi-lateral pilot PPH program with the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China.

Request for accelerated processing at the IPO based on the UK-China PPH agreement should be made in accordance with the respective guidelines. The guidelines for requesting acceleration under the pilot program at the State Intellectual Property Office are also available.

Background

In the modern global economy many companies and some individual applicants have a growing need to acquire patent protection for the same invention in a variety of different countries. This may require separate patent applications being prosecuted at many different intellectual property offices, with each office considering the patent application independently of the others.

With this in mind, and following the recommendations of the Gowers Report, we have been investigating the possibility of international collaboration with other intellectual property offices to enable offices to exploit relevant work already conducted by another office. This has led to PPH agreements with various countries being considered.

Further Information

Further information relating to the Patent Prosecution Highway initiative can be found on the Patent Prosecution Highway Portal Website, hosted by the Japanese Patent Office. The site includes information on the international PPH network and guidelines on making PPH applications between specific Offices. For further information contact Charles Jarman on +44 (0)1633 814782 or email PPH@ipo.gov.uk.