The Colombian Patent Office, in an effort to improve their services and to increase the number of patent applications from domestic applicants has carried out different actions that are of interest to businesses and/or individuals seeking to obtain patent protection in Colombia.

Among the significant advances is the signing of the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot program with the South Korean Patent Office (KIPO), which entered into force on 01 February 2016. This pilot program is part of the group of offices which have already signed such programs, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) since 2012, the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO) since 2013 and the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) since 2014.

In addition to this PPH pilot program signed with the KIPO, it is expected to sign other PPH pilot programs with further international offices, particularly with the European Patent Office and the Pacific Alliance, as reported by the Colombian Patent Office recently.

Another relevant development is the issuance of Resolution No. 3719 of February 2, 2016, by which the Patent Office of Colombia regulates the filing of divisional applications, the conversion of patent applications to utility models, the merger of applications and the possibility of having up to 3 patentability examinations for an application, as long as a period of 18 months, counted as from the publication of the same in the Official Gazette, is not exceeded. Important points of this resolution are the following: i) the possibility of filing divisional applications until a final decision is taken, provided that such division is carried out from the parent application, the filing and examination fee are paid and provided that they correspond to a literal division of the initial subject matter, allowing an ulterior amendment if the corresponding voluntary amendment fee is paid and ii) in case a new examination on the amended claims is desired (within 18 mentioned months), it is necessary paying the examination fee again along with the response to the substantive examination.

The above are relevant facts because previously, divisional applications which were submitted by the applicant’s initiative were not accepted (only in response to a suggestion by the examiner in the substantive examination) and because a single patentability examination was being issued.

Additionally, it is worth indicating the practice adopted by the Patent Office in mid-2015 and according to which the formal examination extends beyond the study of documents, making a first approach on the clarity, conciseness, support, exceptions to patentability and unity of invention a priori of the claim set. This has allowed preparing the claim set for the patentability study, giving the applicant an additional opportunity to adapt the text according to the current legislation and for the patentability evaluation to be carried out for such matter. It has also enabled national applicants who did not have a complete consultation before the submission of the application, to review the possibility of allowing the abandonment of the same by nonresponse (taking into consideration that the application has not been published), to correct the text and submit a new application.

Another important aspect of the latest developments is the reduction in the filing fee and in decision times. According to statistics from the Colombian Patent Office, the study of a patent application currently takes an average of 22 months, in contrast to an average of 62 months for the period 2000-2012.

The measures taken by the Colombian Patent Office Colombia are reflected in the increase of patent applications in Colombia. In 2015, a total of 2242 applications were filed, in contrast to a total of 2205 in 2014. Similarly, a response to the effort in increasing national applications is observed, given that in 2015 a total of 321 applications were submitted by national applicants, versus 280 applications submitted in 2014.

Trends show an interest of the Office on increasing applications in general, facilitating prosecution and providing greater opportunities to defend patentability, as well as strong cooperation between offices, taking into account international examinations by means of the PPH programs. These trends show the importance that the protection of inventions has been acquired in our country during the last years.