The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have begun the second phase of the bilateral Collaborative Search Pilot (CSP) program from November 1, according the KIPO on November 9.
The patent registration program is designed to provide examiners at the both countries with a more comprehensive set of prior art references to consider when making initial patentability determinations and quickly review cases compared to other patent applications.
The USPTO will exempt the preferential examination fees of 5 million won (US$4,474), allowing South Korean companies to see a significant reduction in prosecution time and cost.
The first phase of the program was conducted from 2015 to the end of August 2017 and a total of 112 applications – 77 cases at home and 35 cases abroad – were filed by companies at home and abroad over the period. The average examination processing period was 7.5 months, which was 3.5 months shorter than regular applications. The patent registration rate was 84.4 percent, 25.2 percent points higher than regular applications. The patent allowance and refusal rate in South Korea is 85.3 percent the same as the U.S.
During the first phase of the program, applicants needed to make all the inventions and claims correspondent while applying for the CSP program in the two countries. But the expanded CSP has eased the requirement for claims correspondence to be limited to independent claims.
Due to the unique systems in the U.S., applicants needed to file for patents in both South Korea and the U.S., though it is a prior art shared through the CSP program in the two countries. However, they don’t have to do that anymore as the system has been simplified.
The KIPO is planning to expand the CSP programs to major countries, including China, in order to help domestic companies easily secure overseas patents in other countries.