Taiwan, Japan sign MOU on Patent Prosecution Highway

The China Post

By Joseph Yeh–Taiwan and Japan yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Taipei to speed up the process of patent screening, a move that is expected to further boost bilateral business opportunities. The MOU on a bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot program will help applicants receive patents on their products much faster than in the past, as authorities on both sides can share information on screening the patent to facilitate the process. The pilot program will take effect May 1 and will last two years before evaluation for full implementation, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) “The signing symbolizes that both sides have realized the importance of speeding up the patent-screening process and the move could foreshadow further bilateral cooperation that is mutually beneficial,” said Liao Liou-yi (廖了以), chairman of the Association of East Asian Relations during the signing ceremony. The association represents Taiwan’s interests in Japan in the absence of official diplomatic ties. Liao’s Japanese counterpart, Mitsuo Ohashi, chairman of Japan’s Interchange Association, who represented the Japanese government during the ceremony, said the program will largely decrease the patent-application process from two to three years to several months and the move will boost the Taiwan-Japan partnership in the area of technology. Under the program, applicants who have been granted a patent on their products — in either Taiwan or Japan — will be able to request a faster reviewing process when applying for a patent in both countries, according to Wang Mei-hua (王美花), director-general of the MOEA’s Intellectual Property Office.

It usually takes 41 months for Taiwan to review an application before granting the patent. But the program is expected to largely reduce the review period, Wang said at a post-ceremony press conference yesterday.

Wang said it may take 25 months, for example, for Japan to grant a patent.

But with that approval, just over one month will be needed before results will come out for applicants seeking to receive a patent in Taiwan, she added. Citing the Taiwan-based Hon Hai Group’s partnership with Japan’s Sharp Corp. as one example of close business cooperation between the two countries, Wang said the memorandum is also expected to boost joint business opportunities. Taiwan had a similar PPH Pilot Program with the United States that was signed in September, 2011, Wang added.