In today’s Federal Register Notice, the USPTO announces the expansion of its Track I program for fee-based expedited examination to include Requests for Continued Examination (RCEs). While this may be good news on a practical level, it exacts a high price to obtain prompt review of an application that already is midstream in the examination process. The change takes effect immediately, and applies to RCEs filed before, on, or after December 19, 2011.Continue reading this entry
I was co-chair of last week’s IPO PTO Day conference, and it was a great event. The program included several speakers from the USPTO, including Commissioner for Patents Bob Stoll, Deputy Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino, Chief Administrative Patent Judge James Smith, Vice Chief Administrative Patent Judge James Moore, and Administrative Patent Judge Michael Tierney. Director Kappos gave the luncheon address. Here are some interesting tidbits of the information that they shared.
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.
According to the Washington Post, and supported by comments from Robert Stoll, USPTO Commissioner for Patents, during the September 14,2011 webinar hosted by Foley & Lardner LLP, President Obama is expected to sign the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act on Friday, September 16, 2011. That will make September 16, 2011 the “date of enactment,” triggering some immediate changes to U.S. patent law, and starting a short clock for other changes.
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