expedited examination pilot program

A sore point among inventors and invention owners is the time required for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to review a utility patent application.  That time generally runs between eighteen months and two and a half years or more.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has created a new “first-time filer expedited examination pilot program” for a first-time utility patent applicant to qualify for faster-than-normal review of his or her patent application.  The program is aimed at inventors or invention owners who are new to patenting. The new program is free, other than the usual filing fee for a patent application.

To qualify for the ‘first-time filer’ program, the patent applicant must qualify as a ‘micro entity’ based on income; that is, the applicant must have had a gross income of less than $223,470.00 last year and had never submitted a utility patent application before.  Provisional applications are OK.  There are other limitations, such as the number of independent claims is limited to three and the total number of claims is limited to 20.

So far, the use of the new ‘first-time filer expedited examination’ program has been very limited, with only 42 requests from March to October 2023.  We have yet to find out how quick the program will be.  But, hey, it’s free, so if you’re a new inventor, why not go for it? 

— Robert Yarbrough, Esq.