In June 2010, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced plans to provide patent applicants with different “tracks” that they can select based on the speed with which they want their patent applications examined. The initial three-track proposal included:
- Track I: Prioritized Examination;
- Track II: Traditional Examination Under Current Procedures; and
- Track III: For new applications first-filed in the USPTO, an applicant-controlled delay for up to 30 months.
While Tracks II and III are not yet completely defined, on April 4, 2011, the USPTO announced a May 4, 2011 launch date for Track I. Beginning May 4, 2011, applicants can request prioritized examination under Track I and pay, in addition to the regular filing fees, a fee of US$4,000. The goal is to have a patent application properly filed under Track I reach final disposition at the USPTO within 12 months of the granting of prioritized status. Such final disposition would mean that the patent application is either allowed, abandoned, or is subject to a final rejection, which can be appealed.
The USPTO is limiting requests to a maximum of 10,000 applications during fiscal year 2011, which ends on September 30. Small entity discounts (that is, for individuals or corporations with less than 500 employees) will not be applicable to the prioritization fee.
We highly recommend opting for Track I where an early disposition of patent applications can have significant value.
We should hear more information regarding Tracks II and III in the coming year.
Please contact us should you wish to take advantage of the prioritized examination.