USPTO Will Implement Prioritized Patent Examination Track Option

Editor's Noteļ¼šOn 22 April 2011, USPTO Director Kappos announced that Track One expedited patent examination programme have been indefinitely postponed due to the office's US$100 million budget cut in 2011.

Effective from 4 May 2011, the applicants will have an option to request the USPTO to take a "Prioritized Examination Track" for handling its patent application. Currently, the applicants are able to expedite prosecution of U.S. utility or plant patent applications by taking advantage of a Patent Prosecution Highway or requesting expedite examination by providing a list and analysis of prior art.
Requests for the Prioritized Examination will be accepted upon payment of a $4,000 fee for both small and large entities and other necessary filing fees.  A prioritized application will be accorded prioritized treatment throughout its entire course of prosecution before the examiner and the objective is to complete normal prosecution within 12 months from the filing. 
The application qualified for Prioritized Examination Track must (1) be a new original non-provisional utility or plant patent application; (2) be filed electronically; (3) be "complete" - that is, include the oath or declaration and all necessary fees; and (4) contain no more than 30 total claims of which no more than 4 are independent and no multiple dependent claim is included. However, the prioritization of an application will end if the applicant requests an extension of time for response to an official action, or files a request for suspension of action or an amendment to the application which results in more than 4 independent claims, more than 30 total claims or a multiple dependent claim. And the prioritization does not in any case extend to appeals or interferences. 

The USPTO set an initial 10,000 limit for the number of requests for Prioritized Examination Track accepted from 4 May 2011 through 30 September 2011, the end of fiscal year of 2011, and then will review this limit to evaluate whether adjustments are needed for future years.