Can you speed up design patent applications?
Yes, you can speed up the examination of design patent applications. Applicants may file a request for expedited examination (aka Rocket Docket). The average wait time (pendency) for a first Office Action in design applications is about 14 months (as of November 2019).
Keep in mind that these are averages. Based on my experience, design applications do appear to receive first Office Actions or allowances substantially sooner than utility applications receive their first Office Actions.
What is required to request expedited examination of a design patent application?
According to MPEP 1504.30, these 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 the most burdensome especially if a search has not already been performed by a foreign patent office. 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, the average wait time for a first Office Action is 1.4 months from the date the Rocket Docket Request is granted.
Is the entire design application process expedited?
Yes, the entire examination of a design application is expedited, including appeals.
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