Posts Tagged: "accelerated examination"

USPTO considering an end to accelerated examination

The Patent Office recently announced changes to the accelerated examination program, and hinted that they would soon publish another notice soliciting public comments with respect to whether the program should be kept in place. Accelerated examination is a different process than prioritized examination, or Track One examination, which became effective as of September 2011. The Patent Office is not suggesting an end to prioritized examination.

Strategic Uses of New USPTO Initiatives and Procedures: How to Improve Prosecution Expediency

As is evident from Figure 2, a significant problem affecting USPTO performance has been identified as the Request for Continued Examination (RCE) Backlog, which grow dramatically from 2009 into 2013. The intricacies of RCE practice go beyond the scope of this article, but it is RCE practice that is a primary problem facing the USPTO. At the end of the USPTO’s 2013 End of Fiscal Year, approximately 78,272 RCE applications were awaiting examination at the USPTO. These RCEs divert resources away from the examination of new applications.

An Overview of the U.S. Patent Process

The first time you will substantively hear from the examiner is when the examiner issues what is referred to as a First Office Action on the Merits (FOAM). At this point you are now truly beginning what most would refer to as prosecution of the patent application. The examiner has told you what, if anything, he or she thinks is patentable, and explained (usually in abbreviated fashion) what claims are lacking and why. The applicant, or attorney, must respond to each and everything raised by the examiner in a response filed no later than 6 months after the date of the First Office Action. Notwithstanding the 6 month period to respond, the Patent Examiner will set what is called a “shortened statutory period” to respond, which for an Office Action is 3 months. The shortened statutory period is the time period within which you can respond without having to pay a fee to respond. After the shortened statutory period, which can be 1, 2 or 3 months depending on what the Examiner sends, you can respond up to 6 months but only if you request AND pay for an automatic extension. Automatic extensions can get expensive, the cost goes up depending on how many months of extension you have to purchase. They are called automatic extensions because the Patent Office must grant the extension if you ask and pay for the extension. You should, however, plan on doing things within the shorten statutory period in order to conserve funds and in order to get the maximum patent term.

The USPTO Green Tech Program: Guidepost for the Future

The Green Technology program has taken on a new importance. Clean tech represents a major element in the economics and pubic debate over federal funding of research and development. The recent spate of high profile company failures — companies that received billions of dollars in loan guarantees and financial incentives and tax credits at state and federal levels — have caused a deceleration in funding of green technology ventures and a new dialog on whether these innovations are market ready and strong enough to succeed in the marketplace without such support

Track One By the Numbers. What are you Waiting for?

The USPTO has returned to the historical philosophy that patent examiners should work cooperatively with patent applicants to identify allowable subject matter and issue patents on what is allowable, not just focusing on rejection after rejection after rejection. While there are quite a few positive changes, with more in the works, Track One is by far the most successful policy initiative that has come to bear during the Kappos Administration. The only problem with Track One is that more applicants are not using it! What are you waiting for? A look at the numbers shows that Track One is a huge success and ought to be employed far more than it has been.

Patents for Humanity Announced at White House Event

I had the honor of being invited to the White House today for the Innovation for Global Development Event, which was held in support of the President’s commitment to using harness the power of innovation to solve long-standing global development challenges. As a part of this event, David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, launched a pilot program dubbed Patents for Humanity, which is a voluntary prize competition for patent owners and licensees. The pilot program seeks to encourage businesses of all kinds to apply their patented technology to addressing the world’s humanitarian challenges.

Accelerated Examination is Better Examination

I spoke to five patent practitioners (attorneys and agents) who filed successful 12 month accelerated examination cases in 2011 to get their input on how the process went for them and what subjects should be considered by applicants and their patent counsel before embarking on it.

Patent Strategy: Discovering Crucial Patent Examiner Data

What if you could have a crystal ball looking inside the United States Patent and Trademark Office to easily determine an array of statistical information related to a particular Art Unit or even a specific Patent Examiner? Can you imagine the types of strategic consultations you could engage in with clients? Clients hate being surprised with additional fees and unexplained and/or unexpected delays. What if you could with a few clicks of your mouse find out all kinds of information about a Patent Examiner and/or Art Unit? The amount of cases requiring an RCE, the average number of office actions, how often appeals are successful, how long it takes on average to get a patent, among much more information? Thanks to a new system created by patent attorneys Chris Holt and Joseph Kelly — the PatentCore™ system — you can obtain actionable and immediate intelligence on any patent examiner and on any Art Unit.

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

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.

Extending Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan

The program will continue on a temporary basis. The USPTO may further extend this plan (on either a temporary or permanent basis), or may discontinue the plan altogether after December 31, 2011, even if 10,000 petitions have not been granted. Program participants are limited to 15 applications, but given the number of petitions received so far that does not seem to be a meaningful limitation. As of November 15, 2010, a total of 139 petitions have been filed, with 98 having been granted.

Lots of Support at Patent Office Three Track Public Meeting

All in all I would characterize the mood of the PTO officials I spoke with as up-beat and the mood of the stakeholders in attendance was generally positive, but with reservations about the mechanics of Track 3. After the event I too would be upbeat if I were among the senior ranks at the USPTO. Those aspects that were viewed as negative or needing more work or clarification seemed few, were identified over and over again and should be addressable. That being the case it seems the majority of the proposal is acceptable and the community remains hungry for these types of creative initiatives, which sadly is all we have given that Congress continues to be AWOL on even relatively meaningless reforms, let alone reforms that could actually do some real good.

PTO Proposes Major New Patent Application Processing Rules

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is seeking public comment on a major new patent examination initiative that would provide applicants greater control over the speed with which their applications are examined and promote greater efficiency in the patent examination process. This newly proposed Three-Track program aims to provide applicants with the ability to go faster or slower through the patent process, which will in turn hopefully reduce the pendency of those patent applications that are the most time sensitive. Under Track I applications will be expedited, under Track III they can be slowed at the applicants request.

USPTO Expands Green Technology Acceleration Pilot Program

Coming on the heels of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico the expansion of the green tech initiative at the PTO seems to be in line with the overall direction of the Obama Administration, which today shifted away from a true “all of the above” energy solution and is tending away from domestic oil exploration and drilling in favor of green technologies, including increasing the fuel efficiency of automobiles even further. The USPTO is front and center in a coordinate effort by the federal government to pursue green technologies as part of a unified energy plan. The latest USPTO green initiative will lead to faster patents and a coherent national policy built on the back of American inventors and entrepreneurs.

Proposal: Unlocking Job Growth with Patent Acceleration

The reality is that unless and until Congress steps up to the plate and does something, which seems extraordinarily unlikely, the Patent Office will be left to attempt to piecemeal together solutions. So while no one solution can or will solve all of the problems plaguing the patent system, if cascading solutions are employed at least some applicants can be helped and at least some applications can be accelerated. Of course, the name of the game today is job creation, so I propose a creative way to accelerate patent applications out of order upon proper showing that jobs will be created, and focus my suggestions on those companies that are most likely to create jobs; namely those 5 years or younger and with 99 or fewer employees.

Kappos Round-Table Listening Continues on Campus of USPTO

There were probably about 40 people in the room, and the event was broadcast live over the Internet. Kappos took a number of questions and seemed very engaged. It is a breath of fresh air for the USPTO to be listening to the inventor community in a substantive way like this. But it goes beyond just listening. The USPTO proposal with respect to essentially extending the life of a provisional patent application to 24 months, which was announced officially last week, was the result of a suggestion Kappos received at a round-table event in California. So not only is the USPTO listening, they are taking what the hear into consideration. What a novel, yet profound concept.