In a December 15, 2011 Federal Register notice, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced plans to phase out two programs that allowed for faster examination of certain patent applications. The first program that is ending, the Green Technology Pilot Program, allowed for accelerated review of patent applications covering technology that enhanced environmental quality. The second program, the Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan (commonly known as “bump and dump”) allowed applicants with multiple pending patent applications to have one of the applications accorded special status in exchange for abandonment of another.
Instead of these programs, to speed up examination the USPTO suggests that applicants use the new Track I Prioritized Examination Program, whose goal is to provide final disposition of an application within 12 months. Unlike the programs that are ending (which required no fee), Track I requires a special handling fee of $4,800 (which recently increased from the original $4,000).
The USPTO plans to end the Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan on December 31, 2011 or when 10,000 applications receive special status under the plan, whichever is earlier. The USPTO plans to end the Green Technology Pilot Program on March 31, 2012 or when 500 additional applications receive special status under the program, whichever is earlier.