Exercise Care When Selecting International Searching Authorities

March 19, 2009

in Practice Suggestions,Prosecution Strategy

The USPTO recently published a Notice to applicants filing applications under the PCT in the United States Receiving Office (RO/US) to exercise care in selecting a competent International Searching Authority (ISA) for claimed subject matter.  The USPTO reminds applicants that:  (1)  the EPO will not act as an ISA/IPEA for applications with one or more business method claims; and (2)  the AU-IPO will not act as an ISA/IPEA for applications with one or more claims drawn to certain fields of technology specified in Annex A of the Arrangement between IP Australia and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which was published in the USPTO’s Official Gazette at 1337 OG 263.

From the USPTO’s website …

Limited Competency of Certain International Searching
Authorities With Respect to Applications Filed in the USPTO

The USPTO has noticed a significant number of international applications filed in the United States receiving Office (RO/US) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) where the applicant has chosen an International Searching Authority (ISA) which is not competent for the subject matter of the claimed invention.  This can result in significant delays in the issuance of the International Search Report and Written Opinion of the International Searching Authority.  When such an application is filed it is forwarded by the RO/US to the ISA selected by applicant.  After processing the application, the ISA will return the application to the RO/US with an indication that it is drawn to subject matter for which the ISA is not competent to act. The RO/US will then notify applicant of such and invite applicant to select a competent ISA.  Once the RO/US receives a new indication from applicant as to a new ISA, the RO/US will forward the application to the newly selected ISA where it will undergo further processing and will eventually receive a search in accordance with Chapter I of the PCT.

Applicants are hereby reminded that certain ISAs have limited their competency for applications filed with the RO/US.  Specifically, the European Patent Office (EPO) will not act as an ISA/IPEA for applications with one or more claims to a business method (citation omitted).  Further, the Australian Patent Office (IP Australia) has declared that it is not competent for applications with one or more claims drawn to subject matter set forth in Annex A of the Arrangement between IP Australia and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (see 1337 OG 263).  To avoid significant processing delays, applicants filing international applications naming either the EPO or IP Australia as the ISA should take care to ensure that the application does not contain any claims for which the selected ISA is not competent.

The relevant portion of Annex A is reproduced below.

Annex A of the Arrangement between IP Australia and the USPTO

Subject matter for which the Australian Patent Office is NOT a competent International Search Authority or International Preliminary Examination Authority for international applications filed with the RO/US by International Patent Classification (8th edition):

A01-AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING, all classes except:  A01H, A01N, A01P(i.e. new plants or processes of obtaining them thereof, Preservation of human, animals bodies or plants, biocidal, pest repellent, pest attractant or plant growth regulatory activity of chemical compounds or preparations)
A21-BAKING; EQUIPMENT FOR MAKING OR PROCESSING DOUGHS; DOUGHS FOR BAKING all classes except:  A21D, (i.e. Treatment of flour or dough for baking)
A22-BUTCHERING; MEAT TREATMENT; PROCESSING POULTRY OR FISH
A23N-MACHINES OR APPARATUS FOR TREATING HARVESTED FRUIT, VEGETABLES OR FLOWER BULBS IN BULK
A23P-SHAPING OR WORKING OF FOODSTUFFS
A24-TOBACCO; CIGARS; CIGARETTES
A41-47 PERSONAL AND DOMESTIC ARTICLES (eg. headgear (A42), footwear(A43),
haberdashery (A44))
A61-MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE, all classes except:  A61K, A61L, A61P and A61Q (i.e. preparations for medical, dental or toilet purposes, methods, apparatus for sterilising materials or objects, chemical aspects of bandages, dressings, absorbent pads, or surgical articles, therapeutic activity of chemical compounds, use of cosmetics or similar toilet preparations)
A62-LIFE-SAVING all classes except:  A62D (i.e. chemical means for extinguishing fires, processes for making harmful chemical substances harmless, or less harmful, by effecting a chemical change, composition of materials for coverings or clothing for protecting against harmful chemical agents; composition of materials for transparent parts of gas-masks, respirators, breathing bags or helmets; composition of chemical materials for use in breathing apparatus)
A63-SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS

B06-GENERATING OR TRANSMITTING MECHANICAL VIBRATIONS IN GENERAL
B21, B23-B27 all except: B23K (i.e. soldering or unsoldering; welding; cladding or plating by soldering or welding; cutting by applying heat locally, e.g. flame cutting; working by laser beam)
B31-MAKING PAPER ARTICLE WORKING PAPER
B60-B68 all except: B60L, B60M and B60Q (i.e. electric equipment or propulsion of electrically-propelled vehicles; magnetic suspension or levitation for vehicles; electrodynamic brake systems for vehicles, in general, power supply lines, or devices along rails, for electrically-propelled vehicles, arrangement of signalling or lighting devices, the mounting or supporting thereof or circuits therefor, for vehicles in general)

D01-D07 Textiles all except:  D06L, D06M, D06N,  D06P, D06Q (i.e. bleaching, treatment of fabrics, dyeing or printing textiles, decorating textiles)

E01-E06 FIXED CONSTRUCTION
E21-EARTH OR ROCK DRILLING; MINING

F01-F04 MACHINES
F15-F17 ENGINEERING ELEMENTS, ACTUATORS, STORAGE OR DISTRIBUTION OF GASES OR LIQUIDS
F41-F42 WEAPONS, AMMUNITION

G04-HOR0LOGY
GO6-COMPUTING; Calculating; Counting
G10-MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
G11-INFORMATION STORAGE

The UPSTO’s announcement can be read here.

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© 2009, Michael E. Kondoudis

The Law Office of Michael E. Kondoudis
DC Patent Attorney
www.mekiplaw.com

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