On June 24, 2010, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that it will expand its Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan to all applicants. Under the plan, applicants with more than one copending patent application may have one of the applications accorded “special status” if the applicant agrees to abandon another pending application. “Special status” means that the applicant is advanced for faster examination — typically receiving action within one year.
The previous version of the backlog stimulus plan was limited to small entity applicants, and it was scheduled to end June 30, 2010. The new version of the plan is not limited to small entities. Instead, it will be limited to the first 10,000 applicants of any size, and it will last through at least December 31, 2010.
the problem with the new rule it is that it’s only applicable to patents that were filed before December 9, 2009. And the way it’s written in the USPTO website it really doesn’t explain that very well. So if you have a pending patent application from before December 9, 2009 and want to file a new application and drop the old application, the new application would not be eligible for special status.
I suppose they didn’t have much choice other than to extend this program to large companies, since the patent application backlog has reached critical mass. But won’t the big corporations be able to game the system by paying for initial BS applications and then withdrawing them, just to speed approval of their “real” patents? Has the USPTO come up with any safeguards to prevent this kind of thing, or is this one of those things in patent law that we will just have to deal with?
Mr. LoTempio’s comment correctly points out that the program is limited to applications filed before December 9, 2009. That provides a safeguard against gaming the system with new, meaningless applications.