USPTO to Begin Accepting Requests for Prioritized Examination of Patent Applications on May 4, 2011

By U.S.P.T.O.
April 4, 2011

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.

The Author



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Discuss this

There are currently 7 Comments comments.

  1. Blind Dogma April 5, 2011 12:37 pm


    OT – I see that you have been adjusting your website, but there is one flaw now – the header lacks a “Home” button for the collection of blog threads and thus moving from one thread to another is problematic.

  2. Gene Quinn April 5, 2011 1:30 pm


    Wow! I’m impressed you noticed. I’ll see if I can add that link back at the top. To get to the homepage you can also always click on the logo on every page. I figured it would be safe to lose the “Home” link on the top given that feature was built in, but let me see what I can do.



  3. Mark Nowotarski April 5, 2011 3:46 pm

    A key point to consider with the track 1 program is that if you file an appeal or an RCE, you lose your special status.

  4. Blind Dogma April 5, 2011 10:27 pm


    tick tick tick….

  5. Gene Quinn April 6, 2011 11:04 am


    The track 1 proposal doesn’t punish you for filing an appeal or RCE, does it? It would still seem better to get to that point quicker, at least. With some cutting edge innovations I could see appeals being necessary and taking real time. Perhaps that should be addressed moving forward.


  6. Mark Nowotarski April 6, 2011 1:36 pm

    The track 1 proposal doesn’t punish you for filing an appeal or RCE, does it?

    If by “punish” you mean wait 2 -3 years for an office action after filing an RCE, then yes, you might be punished. We’ve seen the same thing happen with applications that went through the Peer to Patent program. The special status only lasts only up to the point where you file an RCE. Then your application won’t be acted upon again until the examiner clears everything else in his/her docket that has a lower serial number.

    As far as appeals go, there might not be a “penalty”. I believe that appeals are taken in order of appeal docket number, not application serial number, so there would not be an extra delay. You won’t be able to skip to the head of the line, however, the way you can if your application is made special by other means, such as age of inventor.

  7. patent enforcement April 11, 2011 5:07 am

    The potential end to fee diversion (via the patent reform legislation currently making its way through Congress) certainly came at the right time. It would have been criminal to have allowed Congress to raid the USPTO of the increased revenue that the patent office is likely to earn through Track One of the 3-track system.