One year ago today, Singapore launched a “FinTech Fast Track” process for patent applications related to Financial Technology. Without requiring any additional fee, qualifying patent applications can jump ahead of other patent applications, reducing the delay between filing and examination. A patent might be granted as fast as six months after filing.
Singapore recognized the importance of FinTech to its economy and sought to encourage investment in that area using this fast-track process. While other jurisdictions have not followed Singapore’s lead on providing a fast track for FinTech-related patent applications, other procedures exist to reduce the delay between filing and examination of a patent application, allowing a patent application to obtain patent protection and enjoy more time of protection during the term of a patent. The competitive advantages potentially offered by these processes are attractive to many high-tech companies.
Some of the procedures available in the United States, which is a very large and important market for FinTech companies, to decrease the delay between filing and examination include:
- Track One. This procedure involves filing the application with an additional government fee – currently $4,000 for large entities – beyond the normal filing and examination fees. And there are limitations on the number of claims an applicant can include.
- Accelerated Examination. This procedure involves a lower government fee, but requires an Applicant to do a significant amount of legal work prior to filing and to provide most of that legal work to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- Patent Prosecution Highway. This procedure does not involve an additional fee. Instead, a positive opinion from an examiner in another jurisdiction can be used to reduce the amount of delay between filing and examination in the United States.
FinTech patent applicants interested in protection in both Singapore and the United States might consider a strategy of filing in both jurisdictions, but under the FinTech Fast Track process in a Singapore. After prosecuting the Singapore application to allowance – potentially within six months or so of filing – a petition can be filed in the United States to have that application enter the Patent Prosecution Highway so that the U.S. application is examined faster than otherwise.