(Feb. 6, 2020) On January 28, 2020, Mexico’s Institute of Industrial Property (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial, IMPI) announced that it had reached an agreement with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) aimed at expediting the approval of patents in Mexico for individuals and companies that are already in possession of a corresponding U.S. patent.
Under the terms of the arrangement, Mexico’s IMPI will be allowed to use examination work previously done by the USPTO when issuing a counterpart Mexican patent in an effort to streamline its approval, which will effectively result in a parallel patent grant mechanism between the two countries.
Officials from both nations stated that this agreement is an example of the type of collaboration on intellectual property matters envisaged in the new United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA). Specifically, article 20.15 of the USMCA addresses “Patent Cooperation and Work Sharing” and provides that the parties to the agreement commit to simplifying the procedures of their respective patent offices for the benefit of users of the patent system. The parties thus agreed to foster cooperation among their respective patent offices to facilitate the sharing and use of their work, including making examination results available to the patent authorities of the USMCA parties, to improve the quality of examination processes and reduce costs for applicants and patent offices.
Since 2011, the USPTO and IMPI have pursued a similar initiative known as the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), a program in which an applicant that obtains an approval ruling on a patent claim from either the USPTO or IMPI may request accelerated processing of a corresponding request in the other office. The new arrangement improves the PPH framework by providing a more streamlined process that substantially reduces the time to review a patent application in Mexico.