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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is extending its Patent Prosecution Highway, which speeds processing of patent applications filed in multiple countries, to Europe. The USPTO’s one-year patent highway pilot project with the European Patent Office (EPO), which starts in September, is modeled after the agency’s existing pilot and permanent programs with other foreign patent offices. The program allows applicants who receive a ruling on at least one claim in an application from one agency to request the other agency to fast-track examination of the same claims. “This pilot is a major step forward in the USPTO-EPO cooperative efforts to manage workloads and will allow us to take advantage of each other’s work thereby reducing our backlogs while still maintaining higher patent quality,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the USPTO’s director Jon Dudas. In January, a similar USPTO pilot program with the Japan Patent Office became a full-time program. The USPTO also has pilot patent highway programs with the Intellectual Property Office of Australia, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the Korean Intellectual Property Office.

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