A new program allowing applicants to request prioritised (fast-track) examination of US patent applications was announced this week by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Fast-track processing seeks to reduce examination of an application to 12 months, from the current typical timeframe of 3 years. This program is part of an overhaul of the USPTO’s examination system giving applicants greater control of when their US patent applications are examined.
Only new patent applications filed for the first time at the USPTO on or after 04 May 2011 are eligible for fast-track examination. An official fee of US$4000 must be paid, in addition to the normal filing fees. The USPTO is limiting the program initially to a maximum of 10,000 applications filed by 30 September 2011. If you are interested in this program, please contact us promptly.
Later this year, the USPTO is slated to introduce a new “slow-track” examination program. Slow-track processing is expected to allow applicants to delay examination of US patent applications by 30 months. We will update you about this program when more details are available.