Bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Programme between India and Japan

On November 21, 2019, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, or DPIIT) issued a notification (See) notifying the approved Bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Programme between the Indian Patent Office (IPO)and the Patent Offices of other interested countries/regions. As of now, the PPH programme has been agreed upon and signed between the IPO and the Japan Patent Office.

The Patent (Amendment) Rules 2019, which came into force on September 17, 2019, promulgated that expedited examination of patent applications can also be applied for by applicants who are eligible under an arrangement between the IPO and a foreign Patent Office. However, there existed no such arrangement until November 20, 2019, under which applicants could apply for expedited examination. After November 20, 2019, this Bilateral PPH programme shall now provide an opportunity to applicants to apply for expedited examination of patent applications in India.

It is foreseen that the PPH programme will lead to benefits like reduction in disposal time of patent applications, consistency in quality of granted patents, and an opportunity for Indian inventors including MSMEs and Start-ups of India to also get accelerated examination of their patent applications in Japan.

Under the PPH programme, the IPO has entered into a pilot programme with the Japan Patent Office (JPO) for a period of three years. Under said programme, it has been agreed upon that the IPO will receive patent applications in certain specified technical fields only, like electrical, electronics, computer science, information technology, physics, civil, mechanical, textiles, automobiles and metallurgy, while the JPO will receive patent applications in all fields of technology.

It is expected that with the introduction of this PPH programme, the grant of patents and disposal of patent applications at the IPO shall rise to 25,000 and 60,000, respectively, unlike 15,000 grants and about 51,000 disposal of patent applications in the year 2018-19. Also, the examination time of a patent application is expected to be reduced to 12-16 months by March 2021.

In addition to the faster disposal of patent applications, this PPH programme shall promote applicants/inventors of India and Japan to apply for and obtain patents in both the jurisdictions. Success of this pilot programme may encourage the IPO to enter into such PPH programmes with other Patent Offices.