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Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership

Tuesday Jan 03, 2012

USPTO Track One: The Agency’s Self-Report on Implementation Performance Through Year-End 2011

Guest blog by USPTO Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino

Following passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act in September 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) began accepting requests for prioritized examination of patent applications through the Track One Prioritized Patent Examination Program. Track One allows inventors and businesses, for a fee, to have their patents processed to completion in 12 months. No examination support documents or other admissions are required.

The required petition is very simple, and to date, 1,694 Track One petitions have been submitted to the USPTO. On average it is taking 40.8 days to move Track One cases from receipt of petition to completion of pre-examination processing (which includes deciding on the petition). The longest it has taken is 95 days. While on average only 10 of those 40.8 days are consumed in handling the Track One petitions, and while 40.8 days in pre-exam for Track One compares favorably with our normal pre-exam processing time of 69.6 days, we are not satisfied and are working to cut this time further.

Initial substantive results for Track One have been quite positive. Specifically, 1,218 of the 1,231 requests of the prioritized examination (that have been decided) were granted. This represents a 98.9% approval rate. Furthermore, 648 have already received a first office action, and another 34 will be mailed within days. On average we are getting the first action out in Track One cases just 30.7 days after approval of the petition – for a total elapsed period to first action of 66.4 days after filing of the request-petition. (The reason 66.4 does not correspond precisely to 40.8 plus 30.7 is because 40.8 is the average time from filing to granting the request for all applications, including those which have not yet received a first action.) And the longest it has taken us to get a first action out is 70 days from grant of the petition. So we are easily beating our target to get a first action out within an average of three months from the time the petition is granted. In fact, we have beaten it in every case so far.

More importantly, 23 allowances have already been mailed on Track One applications, the fastest of which was mailed just 37 days after the application was filed. And seven more allowances are currently in our pipeline, scheduled to be mailed within days. Of the Track One cases allowed so far, the average time to allowance is 39.2 days from petition approval. As for rejections, so far there have been three final rejections issued on Track One applications. The average time to final rejection has been 34.3 days, and the longest time to final was 50 days, both measured from approval of the Track One petition. It is worth noting that the first Track One application is due to issue on Jan. 10, 2012. This application was filed Sept. 30, 2011.

For those applicants or practitioners concerned about whether Track One applications will be treated differently from others in terms of grant/denial rate, our examiners are being given exactly the same training, credits and incentives to accurately examine Track One cases as for all other cases, and no training, credits or incentives are being given to bias examiner decisions in any way. And as for the data, given the statistics provided above, so far there is no basis to believe there is any difference in result for Track One versus non-Track One processing, other than the significantly faster responsiveness.

So we feel it is fair to say that while we are still in the early days of examining Track One applications, and are continuously working to address bottlenecks where they exist, we are proceeding apace with super-fast processing through the first three months of the program.

For more information about Track One, or if there is any other information you would like the USPTO to report on Track One, please contact Eugenia A. Jones in the USPTO Office of Patent Legal Administration at (571) 272-7727.

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