ROK-UK Patent Prosecution Highway Opens

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), under Commissioner Jung-sik Koh, and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO), under Commissioner Ian Fletcher, agreed to launch the ROK-UK Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) at the 2nd ROK-UK Commissioners¡¯Meeting, held at the Westin Chosun Seoul on June 5, 2009.

The PPH is a set of initiatives that allow patent applicants who have received an examination report from either country to request accelerated examination of a corresponding patent application filed in the other. In Korea, just such a pilot system with Japan began in April 2009, with the United States in January 2009, and with Denmark on March 1, 2009.

Currently, neither the number of Korean patent applicants to the UK-IPO, nor vice versa, is high. However, the UK-IPO is well known for advanced patent content and examination quality. For example, Ernst & Young, one of the world¡¯s leading consultancies reported that in 2007 the UK-IPO outperformed the European Patent Office (EPO) and the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPMA) in patent productivity.

For this reason, the EPO began its Utilisation Pilot Project (UPP), the European version of a PPH, in April 2008. Among the 34 patent offices of EPO member countries, the UK-IPO, the GPMA, the Austria Patent Office (APO), and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO) have been designated as EPO partners.

After the 2nd Commissioners¡¯Meeting, Korea and the UK will be able to shorten examination periods and improve quality by utilizing each other¡¯s evaluation results. At the same time, businesses and applicants are expected enormous cuts in time and cost of obtaining overseas patents.

Also, the PPH pilot project with the UK is thought to have accelerated Korea¡¯s other PPH agreements with counties in the world.

Based on the agreement, the Korea-UK PPH will take effect on October 1, 2009. In addition, exchanges of patent examiners will take place to expedite early establishment of the PPH in Korea and the UK. British patent examiners will first visit Korea during the second half of this year.

In addition to the agreement, the two countries shared opinions and in-depth discussion on enhanced cooperation toward green technologies (GT), fast-tracking patent applications related to GT, SME support programs for intellectual property (IP) rights, IP protection, cooperation in the design field, and business exchange of IP education, among other topics.

<Obtained from the website of KIPO (; posted on June 17, 2009>