The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan announced that on May 21, 2015, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have agreed to launch JP-US Collaborative Search in patent examinations. The Pilot Program for the JP-US Collaborative Search will start on August 1, 2015 (http://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/2015/0521_02.html).
The JP-US Collaborative Search represents a new examination process in which the JP Examiner and the US Examiner conduct prior art searches for a patent application filed with both the JPO and the USPTO, share their search results and initial views, and simultaneously issue first examination reports at an early stage. Though under the new process the search results and initial views on patentability are shared between the JP Examiner and the US Examiner, the patent applications will continue to be examined independently and the first examination reports will also continue to be issued independently. From an applicant's perspective, it is expected that using the collaborative search in patent examinations will allow to accurately predict the timing of the grant of a patent while simultaneously obtaining more stable patent rights for both JP and US applications in an early stage.
The JPO and the USPTO also agreed that the JPO will conduct international searches and international preliminary examinations for part of PCT applications filed with the USPTO. The extended JPO jurisdiction under the PCT system will apply to PCT applications filed with the USPTO starting with July 1, 2015.