USPTO No Longer Accepting Requests to Participate in the IP5 PCT Collaborative Search and Examination Pilot Program

By Peter Schechter

On January 3, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it has reached the total number of applications that can be accepted for the IP5 Offices’ Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Collaborative Search and Examination (CS&E) pilot program.  Each IP5 Office has set a target of accepting 100 PCT applications over the course of the two-year pilot program, and that number has been reached.  As a result, the USPTO has ceased accepting new international applications for the pilot program.

IP5 is the name given to a forum of the five largest intellectual property offices in the world that was set up to improve the efficiency of the examination process for patents worldwide.  The members of IP5 are: the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the National Intellectual Property Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNIPA), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  The IP5 Offices together handle about 80 percent of the world’s patent applications, and 95 per cent of all work carried out under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

IP5 launched this pilot program on July 1, 2018. It allows examiners from all five offices, with different working languages, to collaborate on the search and examination of a single international application. The result is an international search report (ISR) and written opinion (WO) from the chosen ISA based on contributions from all participating offices. The second year of the pilot program runs from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

Interested applicants may still attempt to participate in the pilot program through another International Searching Authority (ISA).  Further information on the number of applications accepted into the pilot program by each IP5 Office in its capacity as an ISA is available on the CS&E pilot webpage of the World Intellectual Property Organization (https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/filing/cse.html)