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The United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Japan Patent Office will launch the so-called “Patent Prosecution Highway” on Jan. 4, which allows applicants whose claims are granted by one office to request fast-track examination of the same patent claims from the other office. The program’s pilot feasibility study started on July 3 and is slated to end on January 3. The Highway has the potential to trim patent office backlogs, said Jon Dudas, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and USPTO director. “Implementation of the Patent Prosecution Highway is an important first step in building up the office-to-office network of cooperation that will be necessary to make the full vision of work sharing on a global scale a reality,” Dudas said. The highway is part of a January 2007 initiative between the United States Department of Commerce and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on enhancing intellectual property rights protection.

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