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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is launching pilot projects with Canada and Korea’s patent offices to fast-track patent prosecution of patents filed in the U.S. and either country. The USPTO’s so-called Patent Prosecution Highway allows applicants to the U.S. patent agency to request fast-track examination of claims that have received a ruling from either the Canadian Intellectual Property Office or the Korean Intellectual Property Office. Applicants to Canada and Korea’s patent offices will likewise be able to ask for fast-track review of claims that the USPTO has approved as patentable. The joint programs are a cornerstone of the USPTO’s efforts to manage its workload, said USPTO director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Jon Dudas. “As it expands, the Patent Prosecution Highway network will increasingly contribute to streamlining the global patent system and, in the process, allow patent offices to achieve efficiency gains and higher patent quality by leveraging each other’s work,” Dudas said. The one-year pilot programs with Canada and Korea expire on January 28, 2009. The USPTO’s similar Patent Prosecution Highway with the Japan Patent Office became a full-time program on Jan. 4, after a year-and-a-half long pilot feasibility study ended on Jan. 3.

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