On November 27, 2009, the USPTO announced a plan to reduce its backlog of pending patent applications filed by small entities. Under the new plan, a patent applicant who both (a) qualifies for small entity status and (b) holds multiple pending patent applications may ask that one of the applications be given “special status” – i.e., faster examination. In exchange, the applicant must agree to abandon one of its other pending applications.
My colleagues Paul Legaard and Dan Scolnick have published a more detailed summary of the program. For the full article at the Pepper Hamilton website, click here. The USPTO’s notice about the program is available here.
UPDATE: The USPTO recently announced that it is extending this program through June 30, 2010.