As of September 26, 2011, applicants can seek fee-based prioritized examination under the USPTO’s Track I program. The September 23, 2011 Federal Register Notice sets forth the details of the program, which is largely identical to that previously set to take effect May 4, 2011, although the basic fee is higher. The USPTO decided not to implement the program in May because funding limitations required it to revise its hiring plans, and it did not believe that it could meet the Track I pendency goals with its current resources. While the USPTO’s funding situation has not improved, Track I is being offered now, in accordance with provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.
In a press release issued July 1, 2011, the USPTO announced pilot changes to the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) that will make the PPH much more widely available, and hence much more useful, to many applicants. Most welcome is the change that will permit PPH filings based on an indication of allowability from any participating patent office, not just the patent office of the priority country.
On April 22, 2011, USPTO Director Kappos announced the impact of the budget reductions embodied in the fiscal year 2011 budget that finally was enacted on April 15, 2011. (Fiscal year 2011 runs through September 30, 2011). The budget gives the USPTO the authority to spend only $2.09 billion, which is about $100 million less than its projected fee collections.
On April 4, 2011, the USPTO issued a Notice in the Federal Register announcing the implementation of fee-based prioritized examination, also known as “Track I” of its three tracks of examination options proposed in June of 2010. Track I will be available for non-reissue applications filed on or after May 4, 2011. While this program may be attractive to applicants seeking prompt examination, some of the details warrant a closer look.
The USPTO has issued a proposed rulemaking supporting its plans to implement “Track I” of the three track examination program announced last year. According to the announcement, the USPTO is still considering public comments on other aspects of the program, but wants to move forward with Track I because “the vast majority of public input was supportive.”Continue reading this entry