Priority And Accelerated Examination
Order of Patent Examination
Applications, other than provisional applications, filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) and accepted as complete applications are assigned for examination to the respective examining technology centers (TC) having charge of the areas of technology related to the invention. In the examining TC, applications are taken up for examination by the examiner to whom they have been assigned in the order in which they have been filed or in accordance with examining procedures established by the Director.
Track One Priority Examination
Prioritized examination is a procedure for expedited review of a patent application for an additional fee. The Office’s goal for prioritized examination is to provide a final disposition within twelve months of prioritized status being granted.
Original nonprovisional utility and plant patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111, or having entered the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371, in which a proper request for continued examination (RCE) has been filed, or is concurrently being filed, having no more than 4 independent claims, 30 total claims, and no multiple dependent claims, are eligible for Prioritized Examination (Track One). The Request for Prioritized Examination must be present on filing of the utility or plant application.
A proper RCE can only be filed if prosecution in the application is closed (e.g., the last Office action is a final action, a notice of allowance, or an action that otherwise closes prosecution in the application). A request for prioritized examination must be made before an Office action responsive to the RCE has been mailed.
In addition to the fee set out below, the applicant must file a petition for track One Priority Examination and a full application including the oaths,
Only 10,000 requests for prioritized examination may be granted by the office each year. If the limit is reached, the Office will turn off the ability to file a request for prioritized examination in EFS-Web.
The prioritized examination program grants special status until one of the following occurs:
i. Applicant files a petition for extension of time to extend the time period for filing a reply.
ii. Applicant files an amendment to amend the application to contain more than four independent claims, more than thirty total claims, or a multiple dependent claim.
iii. Applicant subsequently files a request for continued examination (RCE).
iv. Applicant files a notice of appeal.
v. Applicant files a request for suspension of action.
vi. A notice of allowance is mailed.
vii. A final Office action is mailed.
viii. The application is abandoned.
ix. Examination is completed as defined in 37 CFR 41.102.
Track One Priority Examination Fees
Consult the current fee schedule, available at http://www.uspto.gov/about/offices/cfo/finance/fees.jsp, for the correct fee amounts. The fees required to be paid upon filing for Prioritized Examination are:
i. Basic filing fee, as set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(a), or for a plant application, 37 CFR 1.16(c).
ii. Search fee, as set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(k), or for a plant application, 37 CFR 1.16(m).
iii. Examination fee, as set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(o), or for a plant application, 37 CFR 1.16(q).
iv. Publication fee, as set forth in 37 CFR 1.18(d).
v. Track One processing fee, as set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(i)(1).
vi. Track One prioritized examination fee (See USPTO Fee Schedule).
vii. If applicable, any application size fee, due because the specification and drawings exceed 100 sheets of paper, as set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(s).
viii. If applicable, any excess independent claim fee, due because the number of independent claims exceeds three, as set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(h).
ix. If applicable, any excess claim fee, due because the number of claims exceeds twenty, as set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(i).
If any fee is unpaid at the time of filing of the application, the Request for Prioritized Examination will be dismissed. However, if an explicit authorization to charge any additional required fees has been provided in the papers accompanying the application and the request, the fees will be charged in accordance with the authorization, and the request will not be dismissed for nonpayment of fees.
Only the Track One prioritized examination fee, set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(c), will be refunded upon the dismissal of the original request for prioritized examination. This fee will be refunded automatically (if paid) without the need for applicant to request such a refund. The Track One processing fee, set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(i)(1), will be retained to cover the cost of processing the request. Applicant may request a refund of the publication fee in accordance with MPEP 1126 if the application is not published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b).
Accelerated Examination Based on Age
Applications may be accorded accelerated examination status based on an applicant’s age or health. In order to receive accelerated treatment, applicants must file a petition to make special under 37 CFR 1.102 entitled “Advancement of examination.” Key requirements include a petition with accompanying evidence showing that (1) the state of health of the applicant is such that he or she might not be available to assist in the prosecution of the application if it were to run its normal course, such as a doctor’s certificate or other medical certificate or (2) that the applicant is 65 years of age or older. No additional fee is required. See 37 CFR 1.102(c).