The UK, US and Japan have launched a pilot scheme that will make it quicker for companies that have been granted a patent in one country to get that patent awarded in the other two.
The countries already use a scheme called the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) to speed up applications, but there are restrictions about priority and timing on those. The one-year 'Mottainai' pilot will relax those requirements, the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) said on Friday.
According to the IPO, Mottainai is a Japanese word referring to "a sense of regret concerning waste when the intrinsic value of an object or resource is not properly utilised".
"The Patent Prosecution Highway can significantly speed up the often lengthy process of gaining a patent and help minimise the associated costs to the applicant," intellectual property minister Baroness Wilcox said in a statement. "Relaxing the priority requirements will provide greater opportunity and flexibility for businesses to take advantage of quicker and cheaper international patent protection."
Wilcox noted that the PPH already reduces patent office backlogs by cutting out duplication. Mottainai will lead to greater use of the PPH, improving the efficiency of the offices and helping "contribute to granting high-quality patents", she said.
The Patent Prosecution Highway can significantly speed up the often lengthy process of gaining a patent and help minimise the associated costs to the applicant.– Baroness Wilcox
The Mottainai pilot is just an administrative process and will not affect the types of patents that are granted in the UK, the IPO said.
"It won't actually affect the outcome, it will just happen more quickly," an IPO spokesman told ZDNet UK.
The pilot, which began on 15 July, will run until 14 July, 2012. According to the PPH website, the restrictions lifted in the pilot relate to "the order of filing and the countries from which applications initially claim priority".
Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.