Inspiration for a novel invention may happen in a flash, but the process for patenting that invention certainly doesn’t. In many, if not most cases, it can take two to three years or more for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to complete their examination of a patent application and either grant or deny the patent. For patent applicants in a hurry, the USPTO has established an expedited process known as Track One Prioritized Examination.
Established under the America Invents Act, Track One typically allows patent applicants to obtain a final disposition on their application within about 12 months. This process is not available for all types of patent applications, and the USPTO only accepts a limited number of Track One requests each fiscal year (Oct. 1 – Sept. 30). However, because Track One has been such a popular and successful avenue for processing patent applications, the USPTO recently announced that starting with the 2021 fiscal year, it will increase the limit on Track One requests from 12,000 to 15,000.
This means that more inventors will have the opportunity to take advantage of this expedited patent application program. Here is what you need to know about Track One and whether it may be right for your patent plans.
What Patents Are Eligible for Track One Examination?
As noted, Track One allows applicants to receive a final disposition on their patent applications within approximately 12 months and grants applications special status with fewer requirements and without having to perform a pre-examination search. This is a significantly shorter time frame than the normal patent examination process.
Only utility patent applications and plant patent applications are eligible for Track One; design applications are not. A utility patent protects the functional elements of an article; that is, what it does and how it works. Plant patents are granted to inventors who invent or discover and asexually reproduce “a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.” A design patent protects what an article looks like, i.e., its unique appearance, such as its shape, configuration, or ornamentation.
What Is Required for a Track One Application?
To apply for a patent through the Track One Prioritized Examination Program, the petition must include:
- A specification including claims but no multiple-dependent claims, no more than four independent claims, and no more than 30 total claims.
- Any required drawings.
- An executed inventor’s oath for each inventor or a signed application data sheet with the name and address for each inventor.
- Filing, search, and examination fees.
- A prioritized examination fee.
- A processing fee.
You must submit all of these required items on the same day, or the USPTO will dismiss the request.
Track One applications not only take less time for the USPTO to process, but they also have higher allowance rates than regular patent applications. The USPTO has an average allowance rate of 76 percent, but 87 percent of approved Track One applications receive a notice of allowance that a patent will be granted. While these are certainly attractive aspects of Track One, they come with a higher price since the required fees are substantially greater than for an application that is not prioritized.
To learn more about the Track One program and explore whether it is right for your invention, please contact the attorneys at The Dobrusin Law Firm.