Changes To Implement the Prioritized Examination Track (Track I) of the Enhanced Examination Timing Control Procedures
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) is revising the rules of practice in patent cases to implement a procedure under which applicants may request prioritized examination at the time of filing of an application upon payment of appropriate fees and compliance with certain requirements. In June of 2010, the Office requested comments on a proposal to provide applicants with greater control over when their utility and plant applications are examined and to promote greater efficiency in the patent examination process (3- Track). The Office, in addition to requesting written comments, conducted a public meeting to collect input from the public. The vast majority of public comments and input that the Office received were supportive of the prioritized examination track (Track I) portion of the 3-Track proposal. While the Office is in the process of considering and revising the other portions of the 3-Track proposal in view of the public comments and input, the Office wishes to implement the prioritized examination track (Track I) now to provide the procedure for prioritized examination to applicants as quickly as possible. In February of 2011, the Office published a notice of proposed rule making to set forth the proposed procedure for prioritized examination and to seek public comments on the proposed procedure. The Office considered the public comments and revised the proposed procedure in view of the public comments. The Office, in this final rule, is revising the rules of practice to implement the optional procedure for prioritized examination. The aggregate goal for processing applications under prioritized examination is to provide a final disposition within twelve months of prioritized status being granted. The Office is initially limiting requests for prioritized examination to a maximum of 10,000 applications during the remainder of fiscal year 2011.