Friday, April 15, 2011

Accelerated Examination about to start

A new accelerated patent application examination program is beginning May 4, 2011. Applicants can obtain accelerated examination for eligible patent applications upon payment of an appropriate fee.

The basics:

- The application must be filed on or after May 4, 2011. If a patent applicant has a patent pending prior to this time, the applicant can still take advantage of the accelerated examination program by filing a continuation on or after May 4, 2011.

- U.S. national stage entry patent applications from PCT patent applications are not eligible for prioritized examination. However, a continuation patent application filed from such a U.S. national stage entry patent application may be eligible.

- The fee will be $4,130. No small entity fee reduction.

- A publication fee of $300 is also required, normally required when the patent is issued.

- The claims are limited to no more than 30 total claims, of which no more than four can be independent.

- The application must contain a signed Declaration and include all USPTO fees that are due when filing.

- The number of accelerated applications is limited to 10,000 patent applications for the current year. - Requests for non-publication are not allowed

- Extensions of time are not allowed.

The USPTO states it will provide a final disposition of a patent application through this program within 12 months of the accelerated examination request. “Final disposition” is defined as:
1) Mailing a Notice of Allowance
2) Mailing a final Office Action
3) Applicant filing a Notice of Appeal
4) Declaring an interference
5) Applicant filing a Request for Continued Examination (RCE)
6) Applicant abandoning the patent application.

Typical examination takes 3 years or longer depending on the technology area. The program provides significant acceleration of the examination process. Accelerated examination can be particularly valuable in technology areas that rapidly moving. Accelerated examination can also be valuable to start-ups that need to rapidly protect their technology. Extensions of time for responding to Office Actions during the examination process are still allowed but that will remove the application from the accelerated examination program.

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