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USPTO To Implement 12-Month Fast-Track To Patent Issuance

Effective May 4, 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will implement a program to accelerate the processing of patent applications in exchange for a $4,000 fee. Under the program, applications will be brought to a final disposition (e.g., allowed or finally rejected) within 12 months, on average, of their filing dates, rather than in the three to five years it usually takes to get to this point. According to the USPTO’s recent Notice, the agency will require the following of applicants:

• Applicants must file a new, complete application (which may be a continuation or divisional of an existing application) via the USPTO’s electronic filing system;

• All entity types must pay an additional fee of $4,000 to prioritize their applications (this may change in the future so that small entities pay $2,400 and large entities pay $4,800);

• Applications must be limited to four independent claims and thirty total claims; and

• No more than 10,000 applications will be accepted into the program during fiscal year 2011.

Unlike under previous programs for accelerating applications, there will be no requirement to perform a prior art search and analysis, to establish infringement, to establish advanced inventor age, or to establish special subject matter classification.

In light of the limited number of applications that will be accepted into the program this year, please contact us immediately if you are interested in this program.

"Changes To Implement the Prioritized Examination Track (Track I) of the Enhanced Examination Timing Control Procedures," Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 64, April 4, 2011, http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-7807.pdf.