Accelerating patent applications may be desirable or helpful for many reasons. The patent application process often can take two to three years and sometimes even longer in each country where patent protection is sought. For new patent applications, there are several ways to accelerate the prosecution of a patent application and get a final decision within one year from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):
- Accelerated Examination Patent Applications: If you can provide the additional search and patentability analysis documents required, there is an additional patent application filing method available for utility patent applications and design patent applications.
- Petition to Make Special Based on Age: If you are over 65 years old or have a serious health condition, you may qualify for a free petition to make your application special based on age and get a final decision within one year.
- Petition to Make Special Based on Health: If you have a serious health condition, you may qualify for a free petition to make your application special based on health and get a final decision within one year.
- Petition to Make Special: If your invention materially enhances the quality of the environment, contributes to the development or conservation of energy resources, or contributes to countering terrorism, you may qualify for a free petition to make your application special and get a final decision within one year.
- Fee-Based Patent Application Acceleration: If you can pay the fee and there are still remaining acceleration petitions available (there are annual quota limits), you may qualify for a paid petition to make your application special and get a final decision within one year.
Guidelines for Applicants under the USPTO Accelerated Examination Procedure
The USPTO created an acceleration examination program that is free to use when filing a new patent application and can result in getting a patentability decision in 12 months or less. There are nine requirements outlined by the USPTO that must be meet for accelerated examination. The process includes important additional search and analysis documents, as well as an examiner interview, that greatly assist the patent examiner resulting in the ability to complete examination the faster and more efficiently.
We offer an accelerated examination patent application service to applicants for a fee starting at $6400 for utility patent applications and $4200 for design patent applications. Read more about accelerated examination patent applications and how to get your invention submitted under the USPTO Accelerated Examination Program.
Important Tip: if you are filing a patent application for the first time, you may qualify for the USPTO’s First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Program.
Free Fast Final Patent Decisions from the USPTO
Under U.S. patent law, if you qualify for age or health reasons, you can likely get free fast final decisions from the examiners at the USPTO for your patent application. There is a USPTO form available to complete and sign. Also, for those with an electronic account at the USPTO’s Patent Center, the petition to make special for age or health is offered as an electronic petition.
Petition to Make Special Age
A make special petition for age is based on how old the petitioner is at the time the patent application is filed. If the petitioner is 65 or older, they are eligible to file the make special petition. Verification of age needs to be provided to the USPTO Office of Petitions in order for the petition benefits to be applied. A patent practitioner may not require the petitioner to provide proof; however, the practitioner must believe the petitioner is over 65 in order to sign the statement.
Note that providing proof of age removes all doubt and provides backup records should the petitioners age be questioned. Evidence could include a birth certificate or state identification card. If the applicant and petitioner does not wish to have their information included in the application file record, that information is required to be submitted. The Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP) has instructions to seek non-disclosure of some patent application materials, see MPEP § 724.02.
MPEP § 724.02 has to do with the procedure of handling trade secret, proprietary, and protective order materials. This section offers the details in a make special petition based on age, to also seek a protective order for materials referring to the evidence of the petitioner’s age. According to the USPTO, MPEP § 724.02 “such materials may include those which are subject to a protective or secrecy order issued by a court or by the International Trade Commission (ITC).” This would mean the filed documents cannot be disclosed to the public. However, if a reexamination of a patent is in progress, it is possible that the filed documents may be made public.
Petition to Make Special Health
A make special petition for health is based on the health of the petitioner or applicant. In order for a make special petition – health to be granted, medical evidence must be submitted to the USPTO Office of Petitions. This evidence must prove that the state of health of the petitioner is poor enough that the petitioner may potentially be unable to assist in the prosecution of the patent application if it were to take the usual two years. An example of medical evidence could be medical documentation or a medical certificate from a doctor.
USPTO Petition to Make Special – Accelerating Patent Applications that are Special
Another petition to make special is not based on the petitioner or applicant, but instead the invention of the patent application itself. According to the USPTO, “a petition to make an application special may be filed without a fee if the basis for the petition is: That the invention will materially:
- Enhance the quality of the environment;
- Contribute to the development or conservation of energy resources; or
- Contribute to countering terrorism.”
There are typically many details and information required to offer the appropriate evidence of the material enhancement or contribution. It is recommend to consult a patent practitioner when filing a petition to make special because the invention materially enhances the quality of the environment; contributes to the development or conservation of energy resources; or contributes to countering terrorism.
Paid Fast Final Patent Decisions from the USPTO
Due to the patent application process taking two years or more, some patent applicants choose to pay for acceleration. There are two kinds of programs for accelerating patent applications for fast final patent decisions depending on the kind of patent: TrackOne Program and Rocket Docket. Accelerated examination USPTO fees vary by type of application.
For Utility Patents – TrackOne Program for Accelerating Patent Applications
The USPTO contains a Prioritized Patent Examination Program for utility patent or plant patent applications. This program grants the TrackOne USPTO Prioritized Examination acceleration. However, as of September 2021, only 15,000 patent applications each fiscal year are granted the prioritization. The TrackOne acceleration has less requirements necessary to file, allowing completion of the entire patent application process in under 12 months for a fee without needing to write the additional documents needed for accelerated examination patent applications.
The TrackOne Prioritized Examination is a paid acceleration process, meaning applicants must pay a fee in order to speed up the patent application process. The USPTO fee for a utility or plant application is normally $4200. However, depending on your entity status, it can be much less. For a small entity, you get a 60% reduction, putting the cost at $1680. For a micro entity, you get a 80% reduction, putting the cost at $840.
For Design Patents – Rocket Docket for Accelerating Patent Applications
Utility and plant patent applications are not the only types of patents with an acceleration process available. The USPTO allows the request of a Rocket Docket for a design patent application. If granted, a Rocket Docket can expedite your patent application review as long as the applicant has met all the requirements:
- A request to the USPTO must be made
- Filing fees for a design patent application must be paid
- Expedited Examination fee must be paid
- A complete and correct design patent application must be written
- Black and white drawings of the design must be included in patent application
- A pre-examination search and statement of accomplished search must be completed
- A statement to the field of search must be included
- An information disclosure statement must be included
To request an expedited review of a design patent application, the application must be filed online along with the “Request for Expedited Processing, Design Rocket Docket” form. However, if the design patent application is already filed, it is still possible to request the expedited review. It is advised to file the patent application and request at the same time as it will likely be delayed if filed at different times.
The Rocket Docket also requires applicants to pay a fee in order to accelerate the design patent application process. The USPTO Rocket Docket fee for a design application for accelerating patent applications is $1600. However, your entity status might lower the fee cost for accelerating patent applications. A small entity receives a 60% reduction, making the cost $640. A micro entity receives a 80% reduction, making the cost $320. Also, accelerated examination patent applications are available for design patent applications but these require writing and filing the additional documents needed for the accelerated examination process.
Patent Prosecution Highway PPH
For accelerating patent applications between countries, there is the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH). If you have a notice of allowance or an allowed patent in one country, the PPH may be used to accelerate patenting your invention in other countries.
5 Benefits of Accelerating the Patent Application Process
Accelerating the patent application process can offer several advantages to inventors and companies seeking to protect their intellectual property. Some of the key benefits include:
- Faster protection: One of the primary benefits of accelerating the patent application process is that it allows inventors to obtain protection for their invention more quickly. In fast-paced industries, such as technology, this can be particularly crucial as competitors may be quick to copy or replicate new ideas.
- Competitive advantage: By securing a patent more quickly, inventors and companies can gain a competitive advantage in the market. They can bring their product or innovation to market faster, establish a stronger foothold, and potentially generate greater revenue before competitors have a chance to catch up.
- Reduced costs: Patent applications can be expensive and time-consuming, so accelerating the process can help to reduce costs for inventors and companies. By obtaining a patent more quickly, they can avoid extended legal and administrative fees and begin commercializing their invention sooner.
- Increased investment opportunities: A strong patent portfolio can make a company more attractive to potential investors. Accelerating the patent application process can help to build a robust patent portfolio more quickly, increasing the likelihood of securing funding for the development and commercialization of the invention.
- Improved chances of success: Accelerating the patent application process can also improve the chances of success in obtaining a patent. With faster processing times, inventors have more opportunities to address any issues or objections that may arise during the application process.
Overall, accelerating the patent application process can provide a range of benefits for inventors and companies seeking to protect their intellectual property and gain a competitive advantage in the market.