Update: The information contained in the post below has changed. To see the updated information click here.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced a “fast track” beginning May 4 that will get a patent application reviewed within 12 months — although it will cost applicants an extra $4,000 for the expedited service.
With the publication of “Changes to Implement the Prioritized Examination Track (Track I) of the Enhanced Examination Timing Control Procedures” (DOC) in the Federal Register, the USPTO announced that only 10,000 applications will be accepted under the expedited rules during this fiscal year.
The fast-track is one of three new tracks being considered by the USPTO “designed, first and foremost, to help us put Americans to work – that is, to enable applicants to increase their own, and the USPTO’s effectiveness by selecting their most time-critical work for priority processing. It is also intended to help reduce pendency and enhance work sharing among IP offices,” according to the public blog of USPTO Director David Kappos.
The USPTO’s announcement in the Federal Register notes that “the prioritized examination track (Track I)” will be put into effect now while details of the other two are still being worked out.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the Senate has already passed a bill that would allow the USPTO to keep fees and raise funding and the House is considering similar legislation, all of which could cut fees in half for smaller businesses and help them take advantage of the expedited process.
The bill that passed the Senate—the Patent Reform Act—includes some sweeping changes in U.S. patent law. Chief among these changes is a shift from our current “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” one. This move is fairly controversial, and is perceived as favoring big businesses and large portfolio holders over solo inventors and small/start-up companies. If this shift in patent law does occur—and it looks highly probable that it will—independent inventors and other small entities will be well advised to increase their filing of provisional applications for patent to secure their rights to an invention as early as possible.
For more information on how to protect your invention, see LegalZoom’s Patent Overview.