Last week, the USPTO published a proposed rule that will allow applicants to speed up the patent examination process in exchange for a substantial fee. Published in the February 4, 2011 edition edition of the Federal Register, the rule proposes to implement the first track of a previously-discussed three-track examination process. In most cases, the new program will result in either allowance or final rejection within 12 months of filing. The price for this expedited review will be $4,000, plus the typical filing, search and examination fees that must accompany an application.
This new option does not replace the USPTO’s existing accelerated examination program or Patent Prosecution Highway programs, which allow expedited review in certain situations. However, unlike many of the existing programs, the new program is not limited to any particular technology area or foreign filing status, and it does not require the applicant to submit detailed search reports with the filing.
if the proposal is made final, only new applications will be eligible for the fast-track program. The request and fee must be filed when the application is filed.
The USPTO is accepting comments on the proposed rule through March 7, 2011.