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 also known as Rocket Docket. Normally, the average wait time (pendency) for a first design Office Action is about 16.4 months (as of December 2022). Expedited examination reduces the pendency for an initial review to roughly 3 to 6 months from the Rocket Docket grant date. So an expedited design patent application may save approximately one to two years of wait time for the initial examiner review.
Mind you, these are averages. Keep in mind it may take awhile for the USPTO to grant the Rocket Docket request. Based on my experience, design patent applications generally receive first Office Actions or allowances substantially sooner than utility applications do. Even with a Rocket Docket request filed upfront, it may take four to eight months from the initial filing date to receive a first Office Action.
How to get a design patent quickly
According to MPEP 1504.30, a Rocket Docket Request must include:
- An expedited examination request (Form PTO/SB/27);
- Complete drawings in compliance with USPTO design drawing requirements;
- A statement that a preexamination search was conducted, identifying the field of search such as by U.S. Class and Subclass. The search may be conducted by a foreign patent office;
- An Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) citing known, relevant prior art;
- Payment of at least the design application basic filing fee; and
- Payment of the expedited examination fee for a design application ($640 for small entity as of the date of this post).
Of all the above requirements, the preexamination search takes the most effort. Such a visual patent search may also be more expensive especially if a search has not already been performed. You can rely on a prior search, for example, by a foreign patent office for a related application.
Design patent searches are primarily visual so you should use an experienced design patent search service. 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 2.9 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 8 to 12 months of the filing date of the Rocket Docket request.
What is the cost of a Rocket Docket request?
For a small entity, our total cost for doing the required design search and filing the Rocket Docket request is $1,640, including our $1,000 flat rate and USPTO fees. For a micro entity, the cost of a Rocket Docket request is $1,320.
USPTO fees for expedited examination of a design application are $1,600 for a large entity, $640 for a small entity and $320 for a micro entity.
Is the entire design application process expedited?
Yes, the entire examination of a design application is expedited, including appeals.
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