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 published proposed changes to the rules governing practice before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. While the proposed changes salvage a few elements from the 2008 "Final Rules" that never took effect, the USPTO plans to rescind that rules package. In its place, the USPTO has proposed a rules package that appears to strike a reasonable balance between facilitating Board review and simplifying the appeals process for applicants.