The new patent reform legislation, the America Invents Act, includes a provision for prioritized examination of patents known as Track I. Track I promises to reach a final decision on an application within 12 months. Traditional applications frequently take years to issue. Although many inventors may be content to wait for the wheels of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to move at their usual pace, those willing to pay higher fees for a faster run down the track (and who have inventions that meet limits on the number of claims), may find Track I examination appealing. Impatient inventor beware: the program is only available for a maximum of 10,000 applications per fiscal year, which is about 4% of the applications filed in a given year.
The program started on September 26, 2011 and saw an initial flurry of more than 850 applications filed in its first week. Because the Patent and Trademark Office’s fiscal year ends on September 30, the 10,000 application quota was reset on October 1, 2011. Applications seemed to have settled down after the initial wave. As of October 5, 2011 only three new Track I applications had been submitted.