Washington– The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today plans for the agency to begin accepting requests for prioritized examination of patent applications – allowing inventors and businesses to have their patents processed within 12 months. It currently takes nearly three years to process the average patent. The program, called Track One, launches May 4, 2011, and is part of a new Three-Track system, which will provide applicants with greater control over when their applications are examined and promote greater efficiency in the patent examination process.
“Track One provides a comprehensive, flexible patent application processing model to our nation’s innovators, offering different processing options that are more responsive to the real-world needs of our applicants,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “The Three-Track program will bring the most important new products and services to market more quickly, helping to build businesses and create new jobs in America.”
Requests for prioritized examination will initially be limited to a maximum of 10,000 applications starting May 4, 2011 through the remainder of fiscal year 2011, ending September 30. The USPTO will revisit this limit at the end of the fiscal year to evaluate whether adjustments are needed for future years.
Filing a request for prioritized examination through Track One will include a fee under 37 CFR 1.102(e) of $4,000, in addition to filing fees for the application. For smaller entities, the USPTO is working to offer a 50 percent discount on any filing fee associated with the program, as it does with many other standard processing fees.
Under the Three-Track program, patent applicants may request prioritized examination through Track One, traditional examination under the current procedures through Track Two, and for non-continuing applications first filed with the USPTO, an applicant-controlled delay for up to 30 months prior to docketing for examination under Track Three. Track Three is expected to be available to applicants by September 30, 2011.
The Federal Register notice announcing the implementation of Track One is now available for review here. For additional background on the Three-Track program which USPTO plans to launch before the end of the fiscal year, see the initial program announcement here.