As part of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, utility and plant patent applications can now be processed through the new prioritized examination process (aka the Track 1 process). A patent in the Track 1 process can be granted within twelve months, on average, once Track 1 status is granted. Although the USPTO has stated that, only 10,000 requests for prioritized status will be granted per fiscal year, the Office may change the amount allowed in the future.
To qualify for Track 1 status, the application has to be an original nonprovisional utility application and filed electronically. In addition to the standard fees for a utility patent application filing, you must also pay the prioritized examination fee, which is currently $4,800 for large entities and $2,400 for small entities. There are also some restrictions regarding the application:
- There must be an executed oath or declaration filed with the application
- The application cannot have more than four independent claims, thirty total claims, and no multiple dependent claims.
- Track 1 processing is not available for design, provisional, PCT, national stage, reissue, or reexamination patent applications.
While the fees may seem to be high, in areas that are rapidly changing, such as technology, software and social media, Track 1 can be a fast and efficient way to bypass the typical 2-4 year application process. Depending upon your business needs, this procedure can also be highly beneficial to those whose technologies are being infringed or are threatened from being wrongfully copied as they can obtain their patents sooner to stop the infringers. Startups may also find this procedure beneficial in attracting investors.
If you would like more information or need assistance with your intellectual property needs, please contact me for a free consultation.