What you need to know

Quick decisions on patent applications can now be obtained solely through payment of a $4,000 fee when the application is filed.

What you need to do

Now is the time to compare your portfolio of patent filings with your products and other business goals to identify situations where rapid decisions could materially affect value. Perhaps there is an impending product launch for which “standard” patent processing timelines, which often extend 2-3 years or more, are insufficient. Or perhaps there is a business opportunity or negotiation that could be meaningfully progressed (or wisely abandoned) if clarity on a patent question could be promptly obtained. Too often, patent decisions come too late to affect valuable business decisions. The new patent examination pathway is an attempt to change that reality when applicants are willing to pay for it.

The US Patent and Trademark Office has announced a new program, Track One, that allows applicants to obtain final decisions on their patent applications within 12 months by paying a fee for prioritized examination. This program dramatically simplifies the process and requirements for expedited application review, and addresses many complaints applicants have levied against the PTO’s existing “Accelerated Examination” program.

Those of you who are familiar with the existing Accelerated Examination program know that the level of effort involved in preparing the required submissions can negate the promised rapid decision. Also, the PTO’s extreme adherence to detailed administrative requirements can often delay acceptance into the program until it is no longer relevant. Still further, the Accelerated Examination program’s requirement that patent applicants characterize the prior art often discourages its use.

Track One represents a response to the many complaints that the PTO has received about the Accelerated Examination program. With Track One, no characterization of the prior art is required. Indeed, the requirements for entering Track One are incredibly simple. To be eligible for the program, a utility or plant application must:

  1. be filed on or after May 4, 2011;
  2. include an executed oath and standard filing fees; and
  3. include a $4,000 fee and request for prioritized examination.

There are also limits on the number of claims (not more than 30 total) that can be presented. Any application that meets these requirements will receive an allowance or final rejection within 12 months of acceptance into Track One.

Track One will be limited to 10,000 applications for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. Please contact us as soon as possible if you think you might be interested in utilizing Track One for patent filings.