Can you speed up design patent applications?
Yes, you can speed up the examination of design patent applications by filing a request for expedited examination (aka Rocket Docket). Without the Rocket Docket, the average wait time (pendency) for a first design Office Action is about 16.4 months (as of November 2021). Expedited examination reduces the pendency for an initial review to less than 2 months from the grant date of the Rocket Docket request. So an expedited design patent application will save approximately 1 year in waiting for the initial examiner review.
Mind you, these are averages. Based on my experience, design patent applications generally do receive first Office Actions or allowances substantially sooner than utility applications receive their first Office Actions.
How to get a design patent quickly
According to MPEP 1504.30, here are the requirements for requesting expedited examination of a design application (aka Rocket Docket Request):
- File an expedited examination request (Form PTO/SB/27);
- Submit complete drawings in compliance with USPTO design drawing requirements;
- Include a statement that a preexamination search was conducted, which may be a search conducted by a foreign patent office. The statement must also indicate the field of search such as by U.S. Class and Subclass;
- File an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) citing known, relevant prior art;
- Pay at least the design application basic filing fee; and
- Pay the expedited examination fee for a design application ($800 for small entity as of the date of this post).
Of all the above requirements, it seems that the preexamination search is most critical. Such a visual patent search may also be more expensive especially if a search has not already been performed, say by a foreign patent office for a related application.
Keep in mind that design patent searches are primarily visual so you’ll want to engage an experienced design patent search firm. In this regard, a Rocket Docket Request is somewhat similar to a request for Accelerated Examination in a utility application where a preexamination search is also required.
What is the wait time for a first Office Action in an expedited design application?
According to USPTO statistics (as of fiscal year 2022), the average wait time for a first Office Action in a Rocket Docket design patent application is 1.8 months from the date the expedited examination request is granted.
Can you request expedited examination after the initial filing?
Yes, you may request Rocket Docket for a previously filed design application. Unlike a Track One request which must be submitted with the initial filing of a nonprovisional, there is no requirement that an expedited examination request be submitted with the initial filing of a design application.
This flexibility gives design filers the option to expedite examination if they change their minds after initial filing.
How long does a design patent application take under Rocket Docket?
If no Office Actions are issued, expect to receive a granted design patent within five to six months of the filing date of the Rocket Docket request.
Is the entire design application process expedited?
Yes, the entire examination of a design application is expedited, including appeals.