Last week, the USPTO issued two separate Federal Register Notices updating several of its special programs: the Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan, the Green Technology Pilot Program, and the Extended Missing Parts Pilot Program. Continue reading this entry
On December 8, 2010, the USPTO launched an Extended Missing Parts Pilot Program that will permit applicants to delay payment of search and examination fees (only) for up to 12 months for certain original U.S. non-provisional applications. Applicants who use this program will incur a $130 surcharge and, perhaps more importantly for applicants in pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields, will be charged with "applicant delay" under the Patent Term Adjustment rules.
The USPTO has proposed changes to Missing Parts practice, ostensibly in response to requests to reduce costs that are incurred one year after a provisional application is filed. It is hard to believe that the ability to delay the payment of certain fees would offer any significant relief to applicants. On the other hand, the proposed changes create several traps for the unwary that could impose significant new costs.
The Benefits of the Proposal
Under the proposal, applicants would have to pay the basic filing fee ($330/$165) within the normal time frame, but could delay payment of the search and examination fees (and any excess claim/page fees) until 12 months from the non-provisional filing date. That is, applicants could postpone payment of $890/$445 for up to 12 months without having to pay for extensions of time.
The Costs of the Proposal
Applicants could incur significant costs for being able to keep a few hundred dollars in the bank for a few more months: