As anticipated, effective February 1, 2010, the director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), David Kappos, officially extended the duration of the “Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan”1 (the "Plan"). Click here to read the USPTO's Notice. The Plan, which was initially set to expire on February 28, 2010, was extended until June 30, 2010. Under the Plan, a small entity applicant2 may petition to make an application special and have it advanced to the front of the examination queue if the applicant agrees to expressly abandon a co-pending application owned by the same applicant or having a common inventor. Thus, a patent application may be examined sooner by the USPTO, and consequently a patent may issue sooner under the Plan than under normal procedures. This extension of time may further increase the chances that Director Kappos' goals of acceleration and backlog reduction will be achieved by providing applicants with additional time to opt into the program. Click here for more Background on the Plan. It remains to be seen whether Director Kappos, in the future, will expand the Plan to include large entities, generally those companies with greater than 500 employees. To make significant headway in backlog reduction, however, such an expansion to large entities should be implemented.

If you are a small entity and would like to participate in this accelerated examination plan, please contact your Bracewell & Giuliani attorney or one of the attorneys listed on the top-right of this update. If you are a large entity and want this program expanded to include your company, please write to Director Kappos to express your interest at the following address: Box Comments Patents, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313–1450. Please stand-by as we keep you updated on future developments in this backlog reduction area.