One of the biggest frustrations inventors have with the U.S. patent system is the often lengthy amount of time it takes to get a U.S. patent. For example, it is not uncommon for it to take several years or more from the filing date of an application for an inventor to obtain a U.S. patent.
Is there any way to speed up the process?
Yes, there are several ways that an inventor may be able to make the patenting process go faster.
Most, if not all, of these ways, will require the inventor to spend more money. However, some of these ways may require little or no extra fees.
If you are sixty-five years of age or older, you may file a petition to make your patent application special under 37 C.F.R. 1.102. The U.S. Patent Office does not charge a fee for a petition to make special based on age. However, your patent attorney may or may not charge a fee for preparing such a petition.
If your application is made special based on age, or any other reason, your application will be “… advanced out of turn for examination and will continue to be treated as special throughout the entire prosecution in the Office …”, with the exception of the category of “prioritized examination” which will be described below, and which does not remain special on appeal. (MPEP 708.02 Petition to Make Special, Section VI, first paragraph).
An applicant may also file a petition to make special based on an applicant’s health. There is also no U.S. Patent Office fee for this petition.
A petition to make special can also be filed, asserting that the invention will materially: “(i) enhance the quality of the environment; (ii) contribute to the development or conservation of energy resources; or (iii) contribute to countering terrorism.” (37 C.F.R. 1.102( c) (2)) There is also no U.S. Patent Office fee for a petition based on these grounds.
Applications wherein the inventions “…are deemed of peculiar importance to some branch of public service and the head of some department of the Government requests immediate action for that reason, may be advanced for examination.” (37 C.F.R. 1.102(b), emphasis added).
If none of the above relatively inexpensive options apply, an applicant can request what is called “prioritized examination” by paying to the U.S. Patent Office (1) a prioritized examination fee, (2) a processing fee, and (3) if not already paid, a publication fee. (37 C.F.R. 1.102(e)). However, the publication fee was recently eliminated as of January 1, 2014.
As an example for “prioritized examination”, a “small entity” would currently need to pay a prioritized examination fee of $2,000.00 plus a processing fee of $70.00 for a total of $2,070.00 for a request for “prioritized examination”.
The concept of basically just paying for “prioritized examination” was recently implemented by the U.S. Patent Office.
There is also a process called “Accelerated Examination” which is different from “prioritized examination” and which has been in place for a much longer time period. However, “Accelerated Examination” (see MPEP 708.02(a)) is complicated and places many burdens on the applicant, including the requirements for a “preexamination search” and an “accelerated examination support document”.
Arguably it is much easier, and probably much cheaper to simply pay for “prioritized examination”, if possible, rather than go through the arduous “Accelerated Examination” process.
However, whether you can speed up your patent application, or whether you should, will depend on the particular case; and to determine if or whether you can speed up the patent application you should consult with a registered patent attorney such as Walter J. Tencza, Jr., Esq., PATENTNOW.COM®.
Copyright 2014 Walter J. Tencza, Jr. , Esq., All Rights Reserved.
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