How can a first-time filer speed up their utility patent application?
If you are filing a utility patent application for the first time, you might be able to speed up your patent app. The USPTO has launched a First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program to help micro entity applicants obtain an earlier review of their patent apps. Here is a breakdown of the USPTO program and qualifications.
What are the qualifications for this first-time filer patent program?
Here are the requirements for this pilot program:
- every applicant must qualify as a micro entity and be under the maximum qualifying gross income for the prior calendar year;
- every inventor must not have been named on any other nonprovisional application, whether utility or design;
- the nonprovisional application must not claim priority to a parent nonprovisional application, foreign application or PCT application (claiming priority to a provisional patent application is OK);
- the patent application must be complete, including the oath and payment of all USPTO fees;
- the specification, claims and abstract must be submitted in DOCX format;
- petition Form PTO/SB/464 must be signed and filed electronically.
Does the petition have to be submitted with the initial filing of the patent application?
No, the first-time filer petition may be submitted after the initial filing of the utility nonprovisional patent application. As suggested by the USPTO, one option is to wait to receive the Filing Receipt to make sure that your patent application has met the requirements for this program. That way, your petition will have less risk of being denied.
Is there a fee for the first-time filer patent petition?
No, there is no government fee for this particular petition.
Can you file this petition for a US national stage application?
No, US national stage applications are not eligible for first-time filer petitions.
Can you file this petition for a continuing application?
No, child applications such as continuations and CIP applications are ineligible for this petition.
Should your first patent application be a utility or design patent application?
You might be considering both a utility and design patent application. If you qualify as a micro entity, then you may want to file your utility nonprovisional patent application before your design patent application. That way, you are still eligible for the first-time patent petition. Filing a design patent application first will disqualify you from this pilot program.
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