Yes, according to a recent blog post by USPTO Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino. Track I examination is a new program in which the USPTO will move a patent application up in the queue, with allowance or final rejection within 12 months of filing, in exchange for an additional fee of $4,800.
According to the post, between September 23, 2011 and January 3, 2012 the USPTO received nearly 1,700 track 1 petitions. Of those, nearly 700 have already received a first Office Action, and 37 have been allowed. The average time between the filing date and first Office Action for a Track I filing is 66.4 days. According to Patently-O, the first patent granted on a Track I petition was issued to U.S. Patent No. 8,094,942, issued to Google, Inc. based on an application filed September 30, 2011.
The USPTO’s post indicates that the agency does not expect any difference in allowance/denial rates between Track I applications and normal applications. According to Commissioner Focarino, “our examiners are being given exactly the same training, credits and incentives to accurately examine Track I cases as for all other cases, and no training, credits or incentives are being given to bias examiner decisions in any way.”
I would interested to know whether a continuation application filed under the new Track 1 program would likely be assigned to the same examiner as the parent application, or are there different examiners for Track 1 applications?
Good question. I haven’t seen that scenario yet in our filings. Readers: has anyone seen this situation?