We were recently asked about expedited examination at the USPTO. The options for doing so are basically: pay now, work now, or do both later.
“Paying now” references the Track One program. Entry into the Track One program currently requires an undiscounted official fee of $4200. Otherwise, the Track One eligibility requirements are fairly minor, such as presenting no more than 4 independent claims. So, the program generally is reasonable, aside from the initial fee.
“Working now” references the Accelerated Examination program. The official fees for Accelerated Examination depend on the technology. In some technologies, there is no official fee. However, the requirements for Accelerated Examination are extremely burdensome. Basically, the Applicant writes the first Office Action and a response to their proposed Office Action, before entering the program. In fact, there are even more requirements than that. So, Applicants almost always avoid this program.
“Doing both later” references the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program. Entry into the PPH program requires no official fee. Further, the documentation to enter the PPH program is fairly reasonable, mostly centering around the claims correspondence table in the request petition. So, the entry requirements for the PPH program are minor. However, as this blog has discussed, PPH prosecution typically is longer than a non-PPH prosecution. Accordingly, because PPH prosecutions often include more responses (i.e., more work), they also include more governmental and service fees.
One alternative is making an application “special,” based on the health or age of the inventors. This alternative is fact-specific, so please contact an attorney before pursuing it.
Finally, there is a small trick to accelerating examination by filing a so-called “PCT bypass” application. This trick is just a filing strategy, not a USPTO initiative. So, PCT bypasses cannot effectively initiate examination, like Track One or the PPH Program. However, its fees and workload are comparable to a typical PCT national stage application. So, it can offer a small improvement at little additional cost or effort.
We plan to discuss PCT bypass applications and some details of the Accelerated Examination program in future blog posts. Meanwhile, if we can assist with any of the above options, please contact us.