Prioritized Examination for U.S. Patent Applications

The U.S. Patent Office already offers several programs to expedite the examination of patent applications, which can take years. With the signing of the America Invents Act in September, a new option is now available.  Unlike existing programs, which require special criteria to be satisfied, this new program is open to any applicant willing to pay the required fees.

The program, called “Prioritized Examination,” provides expedited review of a patent application in exchange for an additional fee – $4,800 for large entities and $2,400 for small entities.  According to the Patent Office, the goal of the program is to achieve a final disposition of an application (i.e., a final office action or allowance) within 12 months of prioritized status being granted.  To qualify, the application must be a utility or plant application filed after September 25, 2011, including newly filed continuation applications.  If accepted, the application is accorded “special” status (i.e., it is processed more quickly ahead of standard filings).

Other programs currently offered by the Patent Office for expedited examination include:

  • Accelerated Examination, which requires a pre-examination search document detailing related prior art
  • Green Technology Pilot Program, for applications relating to certain “green” technologies such as those involving alternative energy
  • Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan, which accelerates one application if other co-owned applications are affirmatively abandoned
  • Inventor’s Age or Health, where accelerated examination is available if at least one of the inventors is over 64 or seriously ill

Unlike Accelerated Examination, Prioritized Examination does not require any pre-examination search document.  While the filing fees are greater for Prioritized Examination, it may still be cheaper than Accelerated Examination due to the cost of preparing the documents required for Accelerated Examination.

This post on Patents was authored by Jeffrey Rummler.



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