The Trilateral Offices agreed on the common application format in consultation with users in November 2007. The agreement is as follows:
This format allows an applicant needing to file an application in each Office to prepare a single application in the Common Application Format, and it will be accepted by each Office without the need for amendments related to formalities. This will provide significant savings to applicants in the filing and processing of patent applications before the Trilateral Offices.
The implementation statuses of Common Application Format
The following are the status updates of implementation in each office.
EPO: The EPO is planning to implement the Common Application Format (CAF) beginning of 2009. Paper, PDF and XML format will be accepted.
JPO: The JPO is preparing for the introduction of the Common Application Format in early 2009, except that the sequence listing is a separate part of the description and that the request contains the number of the figure of the drawings which the applicant suggests should accompany the abstract are scheduled to be introduced in 2011.
USPTO: Current USPTO rules and procedure are consistent with Common Application Format. While some of the requirements of the Common Application Format go beyond what the USPTO requires, the USPTO will accept an application in the Common Application Format.
Relation of the Common Application Format to the PLT and PCT
The Common Application Format rationalizes divergent filing requirements applied in each of the Trilateral Offices. Noting that the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) has not yet come into force for any of the Trilateral Offices, some elements of the Common Application Format harmonize diverging filing requirements for national/regional applications filed in each of the Trilateral Offices by referring to the corresponding PCT provisions, which would apply prior to the PLT coming into effect for all of the Trilateral Offices. Other elements of the Common Application Format address issues not regulated by the PCT for which the offices have different practices. Still other elements pertain to issues that go beyond the PCT but, in terms of future development, represent what the offices consider to be appropriate means for addressing those issues.