June 26, 2006
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Press Release, 06-37
USPTO to Give Patent Filers Accelerated Review Option
Proposal Would Guarantee Final Decision in 12 Months
The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is publishing procedures setting forth requirements for patent applicants who want, within 12 months, a final decision by the examiner on whether their application for a patent will be granted or denied. To be eligible for “accelerated examination,” applicants who file under this procedure will be required to provide specific information so that review of the application can be completed rapidly and accurately.
Jon Dudas, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property, explained the proposal by noting that “accelerated examination can provide innovators with the early certainty they may need to attract investors or protect their inventions against infringers.”
Any invention that is new, useful, non-obvious, and which is accompanied by a written description disclosing how to make and use it can be patented. Applicants’ submissions enjoy a presumption of patentability. Thus, to reject an application the USPTO is responsible for ensuring that any evidence indicating that the invention is not new or is obvious (known as “prior art”) is identified and explaining why the invention is not patentable in view of the evidence.
Applicants, have a duty to disclose to the USPTO relevant prior art of which they are aware. However, applicants are not required to search for prior art. Under the USPTO’s accelerated examination procedure, applicants will be required to conduct a search of the prior art, to submit all prior art that is closest to their invention, and explain what the prior art teaches and how their invention is different.
In addition to providing and explaining any prior art references, applicants must explicitly state how their invention is useful and must show how the written description supports the claimed invention. The proposal also limits the number of claims allowed in each application and shortens the time periods for responding to most USPTO communications.
The accelerated examination procedure is designed to give applicants quality patents in less time. In exchange for quick examination, patent examiners will receive more focused and detailed information about the invention and the closest prior art from the applicants. This increased disclosure upfront by applicants will help examiners more quickly make the correct decision about whether a claimed invention deserves a patent.