How to speed up patent applications

The road to getting a US utility patent application allowed is often a long and expensive journey. If you want to expedite your your US utility application, it would be worthwhile to determine whether your application is eligible for one of the following quick and easy options:

If the above quick fixes are not available, you can seek expedited examination your utility patent application by requesting:

  • Track One Prioritized Examination (high government fees)
  • Accelerated Examination (high attorney’s fees)
  • First Action Interview program (no USPTO fees)

Track One Prioritized Examination

The Track One option requires low attorney effort, but high USPTO fees. Since the Track One prioritized examination request must be filed concurrently with the initial filing of the application, you may need to file a continuation if you’re considering prioritized examination after having already filed a non-provisional application.  Here are the pros and cons of the Track One program:

Pros of Prioritized Examination

  • No patentability search required (aka pre-examination search report)
  • Final disposition (i.e., allowance or final rejection) reached within one year of grant of request

Cons & Limits of Prioritized Examination

  • High USPTO fees (large entity: $4,000; small entity: $2,000)
  • Limited to 10,000 applications per year
  • No more than four independent claims and 30 total claims
  • Track One request must be made at initial filing (consider filing a continuation if an application already exists)

Accelerated Examination: Pros & Cons

Accelerated Examination requires a low government fee, but significantly more legal work upfront. Grounds for filing a petition for accelerated examination may include:

  • enhancing the quality of the environment;
  • contributing to the development or conservation of energy resources; or
  • countering terrorism.

Pros of Accelerated Examination

  • May be filed after initial filing of application
  • Low USPTO fees (large entity: $140; small entity $70)
  • Requires

Cons & Limits of Accelerated Examination

  • no more than 3 independent claims and 20 total claims
  • requires pre-examination search documents
  • requires accelerated examination support document that must include an identification of all limitations in the claims that are disclosed in each prior art reference (can lead to admissions against interest in subsequent litigation due to the applicant previously admitting that certain claim limitations are found in particular prior art references)

How to shorten patent application process

Both Track One and accelerated examination will shorten the wait time for the first Office Action. Neither First Action Interview or a PPH request, if granted, will shorten the pendency for the first Office Action. However, a granted PPH request may lead to fewer Office Actions overall and a potentially quicker allowance if the Examiner agrees with the earlier favorable decision on the claims. While First Action Interview (FAI) does not speed up the first Office Action, FAI can reduce the total number of Office Actions.

How to speed up patent process with PCT application

If you filed a PCT application with claims similar to those in your US application, you may be able to benefit from a favorable search report in your PCT application. The international search report in a PCT application is typically issued sooner than a first Office Action in an average US nonprovisional application. You can leverage any favorable claim decisions in the PCT search report by filing a PPH request in your US application.

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Vic Lin

Vic Lin

Startup Patent Attorney | IP Lead Partner at Innovation Capital Law Group
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Vic Lin

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