Due to a $300 million shortfall in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office's (Patent Office) 2011 fiscal year budget, the Patent Office's fast track train has been officially derailed. According to Director Kappos, there is currently no estimate as to if or when it might get back on track.

In a previous client alert,1 we reported that the Patent Office would be implementing a new initiative called "Track I," which was to begin May 4, 2011. The new initiative would have allowed patent applicants the opportunity to accelerate the examination process of a newly filed application in lieu of a $4,000 payment as long as certain procedural requirements were met.2 Director David Kappos, however, announced via his blog3 on April 22, that the Track I initiative would be postponed until further notice.

The shortfall has also forced Director Kappos to postpone or cancel other important initiatives, such as the opening of various satellite offices, hiring additional examiners, improving IT infrastructure, and improving employee training. All of these initiatives were aimed at increasing the quality of examination and reducing the backlog of applications, both of which have been primary goals for Director Kappos since he took over as director of the Patent Office.

With this Track I train now heading nowhere, we encourage all stakeholders to communicate with their congressional representatives and Director Kappos and let them know that Track I should be reinstated as soon as possible to enhance the Unites State's efforts to remain a leader in investment and innovation.